I watched a documentary last year entitled "Cavedigger," and I don't believe I have ever seen a person work harder and with as much passion and drive as the man that it followed. This man is Ra Paulette, and he attempts to make his living off of doing what he loves--digging magnificent art caves in the sandstone hills of New Mexico. Paulette calls his caves his "wilderness shrines" for good reason. He has this ability to manipulate large and small spaces, light and texture to create masterpieces that one can walk into and explore. In addition, he sees his work as an environmental project and seeks to "open up people's feelings" when they step into one of his massive hand-dug caverns. He works diligently with only the company of his dog, day after day spending many years on one cave before he considers it complete.
"It has a lot to do with the juxtaposition of opposites," he says "the sense of being underground with light streaming in". -Ra Paulette
For Paulette, it is all about the process. Once he finishes a cave (despite what others may say he is able to know when something is finished) he is ready to move on to another because he finds the most wonder in the physical creation of that which come from his imagination. Over the past 25 years he has dug about a dozen caves, many of them projects commissioned by people who wanted a piece of livable art to call their own.
In an interview with CBS Paulette was asked what he hoped would be the main take away for the lucky people who have the opportunity to have his "cave experience." In response he said that he hoped all those who ventured into his caves would find "a moment or a length of time in which they had a deeper feeling and deeper understanding of themselves and life."
It's hard to say what I admire most about Paulette. He is not only hardworking and unstoppable, he is one of great integrity when it comes to his art. He knows who he is, and he knows what allows him to live a meaningful and peaceful life. I am curious to explore the making of spaces into works of art. This concept of art as an environment is very intriguing. For this reason, I hope to give it go down the road because I truly feel that external environment can play a huge role in connecting one's outer experiences with his inner revelations.
My review of the documentary : --a little heart-rending at times but still incredibly inspirational.