IPRIN, UKRAINE (WTAJ) – Artists from Ukraine and the U.S. are transforming a heap of burnt-out cars destroyed in the early days of Russia’s war in Ukraine with brilliant sunflowers.

The project has drawn some fire from those who say it is wrong to create beauty out of the wreckage of war, but the artists insist their work has been sanctioned by city leaders and will help Ukrainian artists and overall rebuilding efforts.

Muralist Trek Kelly from Los Angeles said the response had been overwhelmingly positive, including from one couple whose car was in the pile, who thanked them “for repurposing these cars into something more beautiful.”

Authorities had also assured the artists, he said, that no human lives were lost in those cars, most of which were moved from a nearby bridge destroyed by Ukrainian forces to halt the advance of Russian tanks shortly after the Feb. 24 invasion.

“I understand the idea of the flowers showing hope for the future, and that Ukraine cannot be destroyed despite what the Russians tried to do here, but maybe it’s too soon,” said Casimir Kiendl, originally from Wales but was living in Ukraine when the war started.

Ukrainian artist Olena Yanko and Kelly say they honour those concerns, but hope the site will be a place for reflection.

“Yes, there are people who didn’t understand us. They think that we are dancing on the graves of those who died,” Yanko said, “But we want to show that … life will go on, we will win (the war) and we can beat the enemy, whether it’s with a paintbrush or with weapons.”

The collective will sell their work as digital assets to raise money for local causes.

Kelly added the artists would move on even bigger murals in nearby distressed areas that would be sold as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), blockchain-based assets which represent ownership of digital files such as images and text.

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He said the U.S. company Liquitex and some local distributors were donating paints and other supplies, while cities were offering specific walls and areas for the murals.