Clifford Ross’ passion for art has led him down an unusual path. Painting, sculpting, photography and camera-design have all led him to today, the day that his latest piece is displayed to the community.
His three and a half ton stained glass mural adorns the lobby of the new United States Federal Courthouse in Downtown Austin. Ross was approached to execute the project six years ago. His original vision of it did not include a mural, let alone one of such stature.
“They had simply asked me to execute a photograph, perhaps of the Hill Country. This then evolved into a deeper connection with the project and they offered to let me do all the artwork for this incredible building," Ross said.
The courthouse, designed by Max Scogin and Merill Elam, opened last December. It was the first U.S. Federal Courthouse to open in Austin in more than 70 years.
Upon entering the courthouse, two sets of tall glass doors give way to a security checkpoint, showered by a sea of light that makes its way through the large windows on the left. Just above the security booth in the horizon of the immense lobby hangs the 28 square-foot The Austin Wall, as the mural has been dubbed. While the mural required a myriad of complex digital techniques, Ross explains that essence of the project itself is something a bit more natural.
“I spent a lot of time in the Texas Hill Country," Ross said. "Judge Lee Yeakel was very vocal about his desire for me to embrace the landscape here."
The mural will officially be unveiled Tuesday, June 18 at 6 p.m. Ross will be available for an hour-long conversation regarding the creation itself, followed by public gathering on the plaza just outside the courthouse that will include live music and food.