PICS: This man spent 25 years carving breathtaking giant caves in a high desert

2016-02-01 13:27

Santa Fe – A man has spent 25 years of his life creating some of the most breathtaking man-made caves in the depths of New Mexico’s high desert.

Ra Paulette, an American sculptor, left conventional society for life in the high desert to carve out magnificent cavern sculptures from sandstone with only the company of his dog.

“When you are doing something you love and are drawn to it, you want to do it all the time,” he said.

The 68-year-old artist has created over a dozen cave formations, calling his process the “dance of digging”. He uses hand tools to scrape, dig and shape his sculptures.

(Jeffrey Karoff, Vimeo)

(Jeffrey Karoff, Vimeo)

(Jeffrey Karoff, Vimeo)

“It has a lot to do with the juxtaposition of opposites, the sense of being underground with light streaming in. The intimacy of being in a cave, yet the columns are very large, sometimes thirty, forty feet high,” he explained.

He has also built caves for nearby residents, most of who want a piece of “liveable art”, reported CBS. Each project can take years to complete and Paulette charges only $12 per hour of labour.

Paulette's latest project, called magnum opus, is his largest project to date. In addition to carving, he plans to paint the sandstone walls and include a waterfall and pool, which will serve as a healing retreat and a community gathering area.

(Jeffrey Karoff, Vimeo)

(Jeffrey Karoff, Vimeo)

(Jeffrey Karoff, Vimeo)

(Jeffrey Karoff, Vimeo)

According to CBS, a realtor is selling two of Paulette’s caves and the surrounding land for up to $795 000, with all the money going directly to the agent.

His work only started gaining recognition when a filmmaker followed the artist around for three years and produced a short documentary, called Cavedigger, which was also nominated for an Academy Award.

Paulette is a self-taught artist with no university degree in sculpting or architecture.

He views his pieces as environmental projects and his goal is to inspire people to open up emotionally, in response to the enormity and power of what his carvings evoke.

“It’s a process, you know? I’m having the time of my life,” he said.

Watch the documentary trailer here:

CaveDigger from Jeffrey Karoff on Vimeo.

And the CBS interview here:

Read more on:    us  |  art

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