The remote stretch of I-15 between Barstow and Las Vegas that passes through the Mojave Desert is maybe not where you’d expect to find an international sculpture garden. But as you pass through Yermo, California, you cannot miss the huge “64.” Pull over onto the dusty road and you will find a series of large-scale sculptures by Chen Weiming and several others, all dedicated to resisting communism in China and around the world.
Weiming founded the park in 2017 so that anyone could learn about the human rights abuses of the Chinese Communist Party. All artists were invited to contribute, but until recently, only the work of Weiming could be seen.
The 36-acre park features numerous, poignant sculptures, all of which have interpretive signs. Many pieces delve into important events and figures, including the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Lakota Chief Crazy Horse, the Hong Kong protests, and even the COVID-19 virus.
One of the most eye-catching sculptures, whether from the park or driving past on I-15, is the large 64 piece. “64” references the Chinese date-writing convention of writing the number of the month, followed by the number of the day: 6/4/1989 was the date of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The monolithic letters are 6.4 meters tall, 6400 miles from the site of the massacre, and set at an angle of 64 degrees.
To the east, a pile of burnt rubble stands in stark contrast to a half-face, half-skull of Chinese dictator Xi Jingping, mouth dripping with blood, head studded with coronavirus spike proteins, and a large hammer and sickle on the left cheek. Weiming named the sculpture CCP Virus II. The sign next to this ominous figure asserts, in English and Chinese, that spies from the Chinese Communist Party burned the first sculpture down on July 23rd, 2021, and that they since have been arrested. Visitors can still see the pile of rubble that was once CCP Virus I nearby.
Other sculptures in the park include a life-size replica of the “Tank Man” photograph, a bas-relief and mural of protestors, a larger-than-life sculpture of Chinese activist Li Wangyang, a macabre graffiti-like portrait of figures hanged in barbed wire Olympic rings, and a pavilion dedicated to those who died from COVID-19 (referred to as the “CCP Virus” by Weiming). A large bust of Lakota Chief Crazy Horse stands watch, as well. (A massive 563-foot-tall bust of the war hero can also be found carved into a mountain face in Custer, South Dakota.)
The sculpture park has a strong and controversial point of view, and the works themselves are moving and beautiful. Their incongruous location in the desert makes these monumental pieces even more striking.
Know Before You Go
Take I-15 exit 196 toward Eddie World. There are no paved roads directly to the park, but it can be easily accessed by foot or by vehicle.
Liberty Sculpture Park is free. There is a small pavilion and many interpretive signs in English and Mandarin.