BTS 058: Ra Paulette the Cavedigger and his Magnum Opus

Meet Ra Paulette, an American artist that had spend over 25 years carvings caves in Northern New Mexico.

His passion of self discovery combined with a strong intuition of engineering and architecture that had not been reinforced by formal education had resulted in numerous commissioned caves by some of the residents of the area.

However, when realising that he had about 10 years left in his cave digging career, the then 50-year-old cavedigger decided to work on his final and most ambitious project. On 8 Octber 2010, Paulette laid his pickaxe to work on the Luminous Caves.

Described on his website as "both an environmental and social art project that uses solitude and the beauty of the natural world to create an experience that fosters spiritual renewal and personal well being, the Luminous Caves may also serve as a venue for artistic and social welfare events once it's finished.

Paulette's work was made possible thanks to the agreeable material that the caves were composed of. Compressed sandstone was easy to work with and also had reasonable structural integrity, allowing this one man show to operate and create intricate sculpting along the walls in days when it could have take much longer for other materials.

Paulette's singular journey was also the subject of the 2014 documentary, Cavedigger. It was nominated for an Acadamy Award. 

You can go behind the science of this man's dedication and works of art by starting here.

Check out these other articles as part of the 4-part special "Amazing Carved Structures" Arc.


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