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June 2021
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We Made It

By Xiao

Well, this is not done by us.

On our journey to Alaska, in some regions, especially the remote ones, this kind of rock art appear from time to time on a slope by the side of road. Mostly, they are names or initials, even couple of ads. Sometimes you will see a heart declaring love. This one is by the Alaska highway, just after the US-Canada border.

Comparing to the graffiti that are everywhere, even though some of them showcase local charm and are quite interesting, the rest are just vandalism, mostly an indication of a neighborhood going downhill. Comparing to just a can of spray paint, this rock art form takes more dedication. First, a sufficient number of suitable rocks have to be collected. The rocks have to be of similar size, big enough to be visible, yet small enough to be pieced together in details for the desired pattern. They have to stand out against the background. Most rock chosen are white in tone for contrast to the usual dark background. Then a survey of the slope is necessary. A balance is always needed in the choice of a slope, if it is too gentle, it is not visible from the road, if it is too steep, it is not easy to keep the rocks in their positions. Signs of vegetation, stream, rock slide should be avoided. After the site is chosen, a bit of cleaning of the site will provide a good canvas for the start. Determine the size needed for each part of pattern (e.g., a character), so the site could be divided into sub-areas needed. After that, just pick the right rock in the pile to make each dot in your pattern. Stand back from time to time to view your work as a whole for minor adjustment before small mistakes get too big. It is not easy work, we have seen abandoned work along the road quite often. But some of the finished ones are truly amazing. Some people chose to paint the rocks, but I prefer the natural ones, it is more integrated into the environment. It is a silent voice to be heard and remembered, yet it is non-intrusive.

By the way, as you may have gathered, we made it into Alaska, from east coast.

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