Creating Space through Extraction (03:31)
Ra Paulette, age 65, digs caves and piles rocks to stimulate visitors aesthetically and emotionally. Hear about his process of carving out structures and forming architectural shapes. (Credits)
Finding God in the Earth (02:34)
Paulette only uses hand tools to dig caves, and only works with the sandstone of Northern New Mexico. Other artists are put off by the physical labor involved.
Designing a Cave (03:28)
Paulette uses his engineering "instinct" and carries a note to rescuers in case he is buried alive. Structural engineers have approved his architectural shape. He is close friends with his former girlfriend Liz Riedel and her husband, Shel Neymark. Riedel says Paulette lives for art.
Creating Liz and Shel's Cave (03:05)
Paulette's former partner and her husband commissioned an art cave. He planned on completing the project in a few months, but it took two years. Riedel was undergoing cancer treatment, and tried to convince Paulette to stop carving, but he kept expanding the space.
Liz and Shel's Finished Cave (01:58)
Paulette's former partner and her husband describe his work as a cathedral-like space. Other clients have stopped his projects before completion; he would prefer to work alone without their input.
Christina's Cave (03:14)
Paulette's client describes his unwillingness to work with her or listen to her preferences for the space. She halted the project before completion.
David's Cave (03:10)
Paulette saw ideal cave material on Heath's property and approached him with a project. Heath had him stop working before completion over aesthetic differences—a point of contention. Heath feels he had a right to give Paulette direction, as commissioner.
Cave Magic (02:17)
Visitors express appreciation for Paulette's work. He wants the public to use his spaces for meditation and personal transformation. Being underground with sunlight shining through skylights is a metaphor for internal and external life.
Financial Insecurity (03:15)
Paulette works hard as an artist, but does not prioritize comforts. Paulette's wife Paula has a steady job to pay the bills, but is anxious about their retirement. Paulette is unable to change himself.
Magnum Opus (03:50)
Unwilling to work for other people any more, Paulette is creating a master cave on his own terms. He is juxtaposing hugeness with the intimacy of space, and has had to reinforce some pillars.
Part of Paulette's personal cave collapsed and he has abandoned the project. He says he was not familiar with the building material.
Moving On (04:55)
Paulette works out at a gym. He remains philosophical about abandoning his cave after two years of work, and has found a new site on which to start over. He begins the second ten year Magnum Opus project on October 8, 2010.
Credits: Cave Digger (00:57)
Credits: Cave Digger
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