That’s a whale of a sculpture.
Actually, it’s a sculpture of a whale. The art installation, formed from a ton of recycled plastic and towering over Kyiv, Ukraine, serves as a bitter reminder: No real whales will be visiting Kyiv for the foreseeable future.
“Because the river is so dirty, they won’t swim there,” says the plastic whale’s creator, Valeriy Korshunov. “We do not swim there, and whales won’t.”
Placed on six metal pillars, the artwork aims to draw people’s attention to the importance of environmental protection and recycling. It is the country’s biggest plastic sculpture, weighing about 1,653 pounds.
To create the whale, some 2,000 people, including students from dozens of Kyiv schools, collected plastic waste from city parks and rivers. The plastic was recycled, turned into the parts of the whale’s body, and attached to a metal frame.
Korshunov says it was important for him to get children involved in the project. He wanted to help them develop good habits and learn more about sorting waste. He says Ukraine has a particular problem with waste dumping.
During most of the 20th century when Ukraine was part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the nation became industrialized quickly. People intensively farmed land, and pollution was rampant. Now Ukraine is comprised of some of the most polluted places in the world. Farming chemicals and sewage flow into major rivers. In some spots, beaches must stay closed and fishers see greatly reduced catches. All this damage is added to the still-devastating fallout from the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. That disaster contaminated land with deadly radioactive isotopes.
Korshunov is well known for his art projects in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, including a giant mural on the Chernobyl power plant. The artist plans to install more sculptures in other Ukrainian cities.
Here’s a question to think about. Does a plastic whale do the trick? Could it? Even if we could replace God’s creation with animals or plants that act and look just like the originals (a BIG if, of course), would it be the same? Does your gut say “no”? Is a replica of a Van Gogh painting as valuable as the original? Of course not, because the creator is unique. You could say the same of the greatest artist in the universe: God, maker of whales and everything else.
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and Earth, does not live in temples made by man. — Acts 17:24
Why? Ukraine shows how history can contribute to current environmental problems. People can’t replace what God has made—but they can use art to call for preservation of His creation.