Mysterious roadside rock art of U.S. Constitution explained

Mysteries

MYSTERY WIRE — A few miles east of Fallon, lava rocks with a message await travelers on US 50 — the road that Life Magazine named “America’s Loneliest Road” in 1986.

Among the initials, names and hearts left by others, the words are a little out of place at first. The words have been around since 1787, but not like this.

“WE THE PEOPLE …”

The Preamble to the Constitution appears on the north side of US 50 for drivers traveling west to east through a desolate stretch in Nevada. It’s been there for three years now, created by 45-year-old Mike Iacovone, who traveled from his home in Washington, D.C. to make it happen in 2017.

It took him five days. He estimates it’s about 500 yards long, with letters that are 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

“It’s a really beautiful statement, and anyone who reads it — any American who reads it — I believe can get behind it no matter what their politics are, no matter how far right or left they are, it’s something we can all believe in,” Iacovone told 8NewsNow in a Friday interview.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak proclaimed Sept. 17-23 as “Constitution Week.” It’s likely most Nevadans don’t even know about this “Constitution Project,” as Iacovone calls it. You can’t miss it if you drive past, but there are only a few towns between Fallon and Ely on the other side of the state.

Why there? Iacovone took a 2016 tour of “land art” in the West — places like Spiral Jetty on the edge of the Great Salt Lake, the Sun Tunnels in northwest Utah and the Lightning Field in New Mexico. He was on US 50 during that tour, and those simple messages spelled with rocks caught Iacovone’s attention. They inspired him to take it up a notch.

“I saw the miles of this — people leaving those messages — and I thought, oh, that’s really interesting,” he recalls. “It’s like graffiti, but it doesn’t hurt anything — it’s just rocks. It’s people rearranging rocks. So I stopped and I wrote my son’s name, and I took a picture of it. It was the only thing I could think of at the time. But I thought about it all year. … I thought, man, I’m going to write something better out there.”

Iacovone is an educator — he’s been a high school computer graphics teacher in the nation’s capital for 20 years and a college art instructor.

He began to look for something to tie the location to the message. US 50 is also known as the Lincoln Highway, and it was the first road to connect the East Coast to the West Coast. It didn’t take him long to settle on the Constitution.

“I just came up with it, and I thought, oh, maybe there’s a good document that I could really kind of highlight uniting the country. And I just went straight to the Preamble. And I thought, OK, that’s a lot of words, but I think I could do it,” Iacovone said.

“I had no idea how long it would take. And it took five days. A lot of labor, and a lot of heat. But five days of moving rocks out there in the desert.”

Since he created it, he’s been back each year to maintain it, spending about half a day putting things back in place after people take some of the rocks to make their initials. “And I’m totally fine with that. It’s not my land, they’re not my rocks, it’ not my Constitution. It’s there for everybody, and I have no problem going back every year and fixing it, and seeing what happens.”

Iacovone has never put his name on the project. He didn’t think that would make sense.

“I was never like, ‘This is mine, I did this.” I think we tend to think about art as things we can’t touch, and things that are supposed to be appreciated from a safe distance, and I didn’t want those things to be attached to this,” he said.

“That’s how I feel about it. I like to think that it’s not art, it’s just a statement, and I’m just kind of pointing a finger at it.”

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