For more than 10 years, artist Ra Paulette has been working on his caves completely alone, with a dog as his sole companion.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just leave all your worries behind and go to a place of peace and tranquillity, somewhere where none of the everyday troubles matter?
Modern life is at times stressful and not easy to cope with, which is why almost all of us at some point felt the need to find our safe spot.
A place where we don’t have to pretend that we are something that we are not, where there are no expectations and where we can marvel at the wonder of nature.
This is exactly the description that fits the caves Ra Paulette transformed into shrines. His intention is to create spaces for “spiritual renewal” and personal well-being of the visitor.
Artists have been familiar with this concept for centuries.
Since the beginning of the modern era, many art movements have had spirituality as their main focus. It is not at all an unusual practice for those involved in the production of art to seek solitude and a way to escape the society.
Some of them explored different cultures while others found their peace in the isolation of a Buddhist monastery. Ra has found his serenity inside of caves on which he has been working so meticulously. He explained his work in just a few simple sentences:
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.
Ra Paulette practices an unusual form of art that takes your breath away. He uses caves as his playground and turns them into unique places with different purposes.
Some of them are on the private property and serve as mansions while others don’t belong to anyone and everyone can visit them at any time. He also wishes to utilize a few of his caves for artistic purposes and turn them into cultural centers or galleries.
The first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions cave art are probably places like Altamira or Lascaux and creations of the first man, but certainly not cozy places with electricity and running water. These caves can’t be attributed to any style or art movement.
That’s what makes them so unique. Just imagine wandering through the desert of New Mexico and stumbling into one of these mesmerizing artworks. I would be sure that some ancient alien culture has created these otherworldly sculptures and left them there to be discovered by me. Carvings in the sandstone make an impression that you just wandered into a castle of an Elven king and an overall sense of unearthliness. You might think that in order to complete a project of such complexity a team of people working together would be mandatory.
For more than 10 years, Paulette has been working on his caves completely alone, with a dog as his sole companion. He doesn’t have a degree in sculpting, fine art or architecture, which makes his efforts even more impressive.
Recently, his work caught the attention of a filmmaker Jeoffry Karoff who made an Oscar-nominated documentary film “Cavedigger”. Throughout the film, he follows Paulette and documents his daily routines and his work in the caves.
It reveals that Ra is using only the basic hand tools and that he personally discards each and every pile of dirt using a wheelbarrow. There are few words that can describe this kind of dedication and persistence.
Although some of his work was commissioned and the estimated worth of each cave Ra created is approximately 1 million dollars, his intention isn’t to get rich, but to create something every human being can enjoy. The altruism of this 75-years old artist is something we can all learn a lot from.
If you would like to watch an interview with Ra, check out the video below: