The American artist Ra Paulette has spent the last 10 years carving wondrous creations in the walls of a cave located in Northern New Mexico. For many years now, Paulette has walked to work into the hot desert, with only his faithful dog by his side. After much hard work, Paulette has finally allowed the public to view the incredible masterpiece he has been working on all of this time.
It all began with a mile long walk into the wilderness where Paulette discovered the cave. He has since transformed the everyday limestone walls into gorgeous hallways and spaces that are surprisingly full of light. Learn more about the man behind the carvings and check out the magnificent cave artwork here!
When completely finished, the giant piece of art is meant to spark “spiritual renewal and personal well being.” The incredible cave site will also eventually serve as a venue location for events catering to artists as well as issues pertaining to social welfare.
Ra Paulette created what is being called by some, the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ art in the sandstone cliffs of New Mexico, and he has done it all on his own accord. Fed up with working for someone else, Paulette decided to govern his own artwork for a change.
In the past when Paulette was commissioned to create caves he was almost always cut off because of “artistic differences.” He had enough of others interfering with his creative process. And so he decided to forfeit any sort of paycheck and go to work for himself creating what he calls his, “Magnum Opus.”
The incredibly complex cave is only part of the art. Paulette creates social art, which is like regular art but it also strives to bring about social change.
Paulette writes on his website, “Changing the world is a tall order. Art doesn’t attempt to force change through direct action but to catalyze it by affecting the emotional basis from which change can occur.”
Paulette describes his expression of art as down and dirty work. Each project takes a lot of skill and determination. But with only his bare hands, and a few tools, Paulette brings a sheer brilliant masterpiece to life.
On Paulette’s official website he writes, “Manual labor is the foundation of my self expression. To do it well, to do it beautifully, is a “whole-person” activity, engaging mental and emotional strengths as well as physical strength.”
Paulette has created numerous cave carvings, and he has a process to follow, which he refers to as “the dance of digging.” He calls it this because his job is to feel out the most efficient way to carve the walls so that they look beautiful but remain sturdy.
A documentary about Paulette’s journey creating the carved cave, directed by Jeffrey Karoffabout, has earned a nomination for an Academy Award.
Paulette is a fascinating, and deep man with a lot of great messages to share with the world. On his website he writes of the rural, poor, and immigrant communities that form in a totally different world than the rich neighbors in the next town over. He hopes that his creation of the Luminous Caves helps spark some social change in regards to bringing together different cultures living throughout the beautiful landscapes of New Mexico.
Paulette has not yet opened his most recent cave to the public full time; he is still busy working on the masterpiece. He says that he will feel it when the project is complete, and it’s just not there yet.