The term "dirty art" conjures up some distasteful images but is one of them trash? Dirty art, or artistic upcycling (a much more sophisticated term), is really just artwork made from things people throw away. I recently read an article on a website called Web Urbanist that said, "In today's world of weird and amazing art some of the most compelling and creative works have been born out of the simplest and most abundant of materials:garbage." HA Shult's "trash people" travels all over the world and decorates streets with huge sculptures made from aluminum cans, computer parts and other throwaway items.
There is a local upcycler named Paul Sabin who has taken people's trash and turned it into works of art that decorate the yard surrounding his home in Tyler Hill, PA. Barbara Hust and I had the privilege of visiting his "gallery" and chatting with him.
Paul and his wife, Susie, spent the early years of their marriage as missionaries to the Athabascan people of Alaska. Upon returning home, they settled into life in northeastern PA. Paul worked at a few local businesses throughout his life but when he found himself unemployed and restless, he began to be inspired to create art. One of his largest, and most popular art projects, is The Tower of Babel. This is a painstakingly stacked pile of radios, televisions, telephones, and CB's that seemingly climb a tree in the forest next to his place. (We could all have a tribute to "babble" and the deeper meaning of this piece of art is not lost on anyone!)
Near the road by his house is the weed-whacker sculpture that, Paul explains, is in honor of his disdain for the temperamental and exasperating machines. (I felt a special affinity to this piece as I despise weed-whackers!) He says people give him their old weed whackers all the time and he is constantly adding to this piece. (I have about four of these nasty buggers in my gardening shed, which I am thinking will end up as "art" very soon!)
Farther down in the woods was a painting on a car hood that Paul showed me. His explanation was poignant as he told of a time in his life when he lost a lot of friends to suicide. The grief, pain, and especially the question "why?" plagued him until he felt led to put the tormenting emotions into painting. Once the project was finished, he felt a sense of release as God brought emotional healing to him.
A lot of Paul's work includes quotes from the Bible and helps to make people think about God's Word and often ends up being a conversation
All this, got me thinking about God and His miracles of amazing design and majestic beauty. Evidence of His creativity in a sunset or sunrise, the ocean, the mountains, wildflowers, rainbows and so much more. But then "dirty art" shed a whole new light on God's artistic nature.
Page 2 of 2 - After all, doesn't He take us in our state of brokenness and sin and make something new if only we let Him? I thought of some of the Biblical heroes and heroines that started out as "trash". I'm pretty sure that Rahab was considered just that until she believed in the one true God and He stuck her right smack-dab in the middle of Jesus' bloodline! Oh and there's Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus, Jacob and Saul/Paul (remember the scoundrel in his early days?) who are all examples I don't know about you, but I want to be one of God's upcycling art projects… I could use an overhaul!
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