July 01, 2011 — Coral Gables — Billie Grace Lynn, associate professor of sculpture and head of 3D art in the Department of Art and Art History at UM, is the prestigious West Collection 2011 Grand Prize Winner, receiving $25,000 to traverse the country on the skeleton of a cow—her electric/hybrid Mad Cow Motorcycle.
An eight-foot by three-foot sculpture of cow bones, bicycle frame, and motor, and outfitted with a Florida M A D C O W license plate, cowbell, and cupholder, the Mad Cow Motorcycle has already been spotted around Miami. Lynn dons her black leather jacket, cowhide chaps, and udder-shaped helmet and rides the bovine bones around Miami Beach, inviting stares, questions, and conversations. “It’s a Mad Cow!” she calls out along the boardwalk. “Save as many as possible! Go vegetarian! Save the Earth! Eat less meat!”
The curious admire the craftsmanship of the bike, which Lynn made from real cow bones out of a field in Florida where a cow was shot giving birth because the calf wouldn’t come out. The like-minded activists cheer on her message about energy, the environment, and a meat-based diet.
“I want people to think about their meat consumption,” says Lynn. “Most people don’t go into an art gallery or think about stuff like this so it’s good to get out into the world and have conversations.”
It is precisely this activist focus the West Collection of Contemporary Art in Oaks, Pennsylvania was looking for in their winner this year. With 2,100 international finalists, they wanted to support projects that brought art beyond the studio and into the real world. Lynn will be doing just that, using her prize money to modify her Mad Cow Motorcycle into a biodiesel-powered machine she can ride across the country touring the beef industry states and educating people about cruelty to animals and the greenhouse gases generated by commercial cattle farms.
“Billie’s work is remarkable as a kinetic sculpture and message of environmentalism, and she will undoubtedly inspire those she meets on her cross-country Mad Cow Motorcycle journey,” says Paige West, curator of the West Collection.
Lynn will be making a movie about her U.S. tour. To view the Mad Cow Miami video, click here. “Cut down eating meat just a little,” she tells people, her smile as bright as the rib cage of her ride. “One day a week, that’s all I ask.” She laughs and peddles her Mad Cow Motorcycle on down the Miami coastline.
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