'We the People' set in stone in Nevada desert
In 2017, east coaster Michael Iacovone took a road trip on America’s ‘Loneliest Highway’. But what he found in Nevada inspired him to create something that reminds people of what makes this country so special.
On Highway 50, about 20 miles outside Fallon, Iacovone began to see names, initials, and pictures lining the side of the highway; the images all created out of stones found in the desert. For Iacovone, who works in natural open spaces, the idea immediately drew him in.
“I thought that was really interesting that people would leave their marks and write their names or their initials to remember the area,” he said. “I like to work in open spaces and in the environments, and make things that wouldn't ordinarily be there. But using the tools that are in the environment.”
The names of prior travelers helps make the road feel a little less lonely. Iacovone stopped to write his son’s name, then continued with his road trip. But the idea of what people were doing on this stretch of land, remained in the back of his mind.
“You could read what people left as you passed by, and I thought about it a lot and I thought maybe something more interesting could be put here.”
He wanted something that represented not only Lincoln’s Highway and the space around it, but the country the road connects.
“I find it really interesting so much of Nevada is open public space,” Iacovone said. “So that's one of the reasons it seemed like a perfect space. It's not anybody's land, it's not fenced off, it's just there so it seemed just ready for something.
That something, he decided, was 291 letters long. This year, he made a special trip back to Nevada to write the Preamble of the Constitution on the side of the road. He worked for five days, getting up as early as possible and working all day in the hot Nevada sun rearranging hundreds of rocks.
“Five days is a long time to work on something,” he said. “It's a lot of labor. A lot of pain. It's hot and all that, but it's still the right thing to do.
The right thing, he says, to remind people who pass by what is really important.
“I find it really distressing how divided our country has become and how people have these real black and white issues and how you can't see the other side,” he said. “I find that everyone believes in the Constitution, and this is what it's all founded on and maybe if people just thought more about that maybe we wouldn't have to be so opposed to each other.”
Iacovone says the whole thing is about half a mile long, and he hopes drivers who see it will take the message to heart.
“Maybe that's a reminder about what the country was founded on,” he said. “Maybe it's a reminder to think about things a little differently, or maybe it's just a reminder to be proud of being here, but that's up to them and not me. I'd be happy if anyone got any reactions out of it. This country isn't for me, it's for all of us so I think maybe we can put differences aside.”
Iacovone says for the most part he was alone with his thoughts, but a few people stopped to talk to him as he worked. He hopes the message can stay for some time, though he knows eventually nature, or humans, will take over. Still he’s intrigued by the idea of leaving his mark on something, but at the same time, not doing anything permanent to the landscape.
“I really enjoy working with land and space, and kind of leaving my mark on these things, but in a way that's not intrusive and it's inpermanent and fleeting. Just as a human being you feel the need to leave your mark on something, but at the same time as a decent human being you don't want to mess anything up. ”
You can see the message at the Borax Playa Vista Park between Fallon and Sand Mountain.