Big Rig Jig – Art in the Atmosphere


Big Rig Jig

Artist: Mike Ross

Stand before its beauty and towering dominance, quiver in its sheer power and resonance. Step inside the magnificent beast and walk the twisted lines that represent our society and economy. Twists and turns that show our inability to realign our priorities, re-capture our once thriving Eco-system and attain economic self-reliance.

These are just a few of the things that the sculptureinside big rig jig “Big Rig Jig” by artist Mike Ross, can convey to a viewer. The piece of work itself was erected in 2007 at the “Burning Man Festival” in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada. This masterpiece was constructed from two decommissioned and re-purposed 18-wheeler tanker trucks originally used for oil transportation. The sculpture’s height is estimated at 4-stories. It has the capacity to endure human weight, thanks to the truss work installed throughout the tubes. Viewers can traverse through the inner curves and perch on the highest peak for the most spectacular view. This was made capable by anchoring the artwork to a giant metal base with custom built screws and other support gear.

This sculpture is what art aficionados consider “free standing”. In my opinion, it is probably the best example of freestanding artwork to date, mainly due to the fact that not only can we see under, over, and around the sculpture, in this case we are given the opportunity to see and experience the inside of it as well.

mikeross_brj01Big Rig Jig is made up of two different oil tanker trucks, and since the artist chose to re-purpose these items instead of creating his own, he’s demonstrated his skillful use of “assemblage” and “ready made” objects. The artist fabricated the piece of artwork it is now by welding, heating and twisting the metal. The end result is astounding in it self and has amazing form. It certainly portrays American symbolism, in that no matter the circumstance, we may bend, but we’ll never break.

The scale of this piece of art is perfect and in proportion to reality. From my point of view, the scale of the oil tanker conveys the similarity of societal problems with our overseas oil dependency. The dark blue color scheme of the larger cab grounds the sculpture, which denotes a weight differential between the two. The disastrous manner in which the cabs are stacked represents the fatality of neglecting important issues and the possible catamikeross_brj05strophic end result.

If you break down the artwork piece by piece, you will see the genius in the construction and welding of this project. From first glance, you assume the piece will be symmetrical but it is not. The asymmetry also gives the illusion of imbalance, but in reality the structure stands steady and able to carry “passengers”. The colors and tones also help bring the piece together, and even though both rigs have blue cabs and silver storage tanks, the tonal difference shows relation and separation of the pieces.


When you look closely at the cabs, you’ll see the top one is a light blue (almost white) and has dark blue stripes, and the bottom truck has a dark blue base and light blue stripes. The trucks themselves also look similar in size, though they are not. If you compare the size of the cabs and tanks, you’ll notice the bottom cab is definitely bigger and the tank is longer by two lengths. Also, you’ll notice the high amount of tension between the trucks, giving the illusion of the top truck falling off or crashing onto the bottom one. It appears as if they will be forever suspended in this position, with no definitive knowledge of what’s to come.


As you can see, the main message to me and most likely many others, is that Americans want to see a substantial reduction in our country’s reliance on imported oil, especially when it comes from hostile countries such as those in the Middle East. We, as a people, need to come together and find another solution, whether it be more renewable energy sources like solar and wind, or other alternatives, but we cannot stand around and ignore the giant purple elephant, or in this case, two giant oil tanker trucks stacked on top of one another. As amazing as this sculpture is, it’s also very saddening. As I previously stated, this sculpture embraces our neglect of issues that need to be addressed which could have been avoided. It’s pitiful that it takes an epic monstrosity like “Big Rig Jig” for society to even ‘get a clue’.

For me, the message of this sculpture in three words or less:

Wake Up America”


Thanks Again for Reading!

forever yours,



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