Tanker, Tanker in the Sky
An artist’s tribute to truck power
Imagine standing beneath the collision of two 18-wheeler tanker trucks, steel curling into a C-shaped coil, towering 42 feet in the air. Sculptor Mike Ross and his Big Rig Jig exhibit are providing this rush for both art and trucking enthusiasts alike. More than 47,000 people had the chance to see, touch and even climb inside the massive sculpture at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert last August.
Big Rig Jig was inspired by a cross-country hitch-hiking tour Ross took with his fiancée, Nicole, years ago. The couple caught the majority of their rides with truck drivers, and Ross found himself fascinated by the people and places he saw along the way. “I felt a biographical connection,” he says. When it was time to create Big Rig Jig, his largest and heaviest piece of work, he drew on that connection he had felt with the drivers.
Assembling the work was no small feat. Ross headed across the country again, this time with a team of close friends, including professional driver Ben Sparks. From New York to San Francisco, they combed the highways and back roads in search of the right pieces to execute his vision for the work. Ross was particularly fond of trucks in the style of the mid-’80s Freightliner, but he was limited by a budget and needed pieces in good condition. “We looked everywhere, trying to find the right tankers,” Ross says.
Finally, he located a handful of trucks that he could mix and match, and set out to build the final product.
Weighing in at 50,000 pounds, Big Rig Jig is Ross’ homage to the substantial power and style of classic tankers and trucks. “Trucks are such an awesome source of power,” he says. “When you’re driving down the highway, you just feel them barreling alongside you.”