Ross discovered his passion for making art while studying mathematics at UC Berkeley. There he received his BA in Mathematics (1960) and an MA in Art in 1962. In 1961 his first solo sculpture exhibit was at Dilexi Gallery in San Francisco. In the 1960s he taught sculpture at UC Berkeley, Cornell University, School of Visual Arts, and Lehman College, New York.
Ross exhibited at the Dwan Gallery between1967 and1971, where both the minimal and land art movements originated. Other artists with Dwan included Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Walter DeMaria, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, and Sol Lewitt who introduced Ross to Virginia Dwan. Ross’s first sculptures exhibited with Dwan were transparent skewed and truncated cubes—minimal objects that bend and refract both light and perception.
In 1969 Ross shifted the emphasis of his artwork from that of the minimal prism object, to the prism as an instrument through which light revealed itself so that the orchestration of spectrum light became the artwork. This began his life long interest in projecting large bands of solar spectrum into living spaces.
Ross continues to create site-specific solar spectrum installations made up of arrays of giant prisms specifically tuned to the sun. The solar spectrums cascade down walls and across floors and ceilings, continuously changing by the hour and with the seasons as they are propelled through the space by the turning of the Earth. Each artwork is specific to the architecture and its location on the planet. The ultimate goal is to create a nexus of solar spectrum artworks around the globe so that as the spectrum sets in one location, it is always rising in another.
Ross’s earthwork, Star Axis, is located in the New Mexico desert. It is both architectonic sculpture and naked eye observatory. The approach to building Star Axis involves gathering a variety of star alignments in different time scales and building them into sculptural form. Walking through its chambers you can see how star space relates to human scale and how the space of the stars reaches down into the earth. Ross conceived of Star Axis in 1971 and began building it in 1976 after a 4-year search through the southwest to find the perfect site—a mesa where one stands at the boundary between earth and sky. He’s now finishing Star Axis with a crew of local stonemasons. It’s made with granite, sandstone, bronze, stainless steel, and earth. When completed, Star Axis will be eleven stories high and a fifth of a mile across.