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The Caves Of Ra Paulette

For the past 25 years, Ra Paulette has been carving out man-made caves from the sandstone hills of New Mexico, and then sculpting these spaces into works of art he calls wilderness shrines. Lee Cowan has the story of an artist who does his best work underground.

Official Website: Ra Paulette - Cavedigger
Official Website Through WayBackMachine!

YouTube Video

From Wiki:

Ra Paulette is an American cave sculptor based in New Mexico who digs into hillsides to sculpt elaborate artistic spaces inside mountains.
Reviewer Martha Mendoza in the Los Angeles Times described the caves he created as shrines, as hallowed places, a "sanctuary for prayer and meditation" while others describe the caves as works of art. The caves are finished with "scallops, molded curves, smooth ledges, inlaid stones, narrow pods and crusty ledges." His caves attract visitors worldwide.

Paulette is self-taught; he never studied architecture, sculpting or structural engineering in a formal school. He works with hand tools such as shovels, pick axes, and scrapers. According to one source, he is paid only $12 per hour. He grew up in northwest Indiana along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Paulette created Windows in the Earth Shrine in northern New Mexico for a resort north of Santa Fe so that visitors could climb a third of a mile, enjoy the view, and step inside the sandstone cave space to "meditate, write", enjoy the art, or even have a wedding. It took him two and a half years to complete. Paulette's sculpture was the subject of a 2014 documentary entitled Cavedigger.
In 2014, Paulette described his artistic approach:

It has a lot to do with the juxtaposition of opposites: the sense of being underground with the light streaming in; the intimacy of being in a cave, yet the columns end up very large, sometimes thirty to forty feet high.
—Paulette in an interview, 2014

Related Info:
Cavedigger is a 2013 documentary film by Jeffrey Karoff.
This film is the story of Ra Paulette, a man who obsessively digs massive, ornately carved, sandstone caves in Northern New Mexico as art. These works are commissioned by patrons, who envision smaller scale projects, but Paulette often take years to finish, and artistic conflict ensues over money and the scope of the project. All of his caves are created by using just hand tools. The story is the classic battle of how one knows when an artistic project is finished. At the end of the film, we see Paulette start his magnum opus, a cave he expects to take the last 10 years of his life, on unauthorized land, and in secret.

Cavedigger Documentary website: [LINK]
Cavedigger at IMDB
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