Ra Paulette is an American cave sculptor based in New Mexico who digs into hillsides to sculpt elaborate artistic spaces inside mountains. Reviewer Martha Mendoza in the Los Angeles Times described the caves he created as shrines, as hallowed places, a "sanctuary for prayer and meditation" while others describe the caves as works of art. The caves are finished with "scallops, molded curves, smooth ledges, inlaid stones, narrow pods and crusty ledges." His caves attract visitors worldwide.
Paulette is self-taught; he never studied architecture, sculpting or structural engineering in a formal school. He works with hand tools such as shovels, pick axes, and scrapers. According to one source, he is paid only $12 per hour. Paulette grew up in northwest Indiana along the shores of Lake Michigan.
Paulette created Windows in the Earth Shrine in northern New Mexico for a resort north of Santa Fe so that visitors could climb a third of a mile, enjoy the view, and step inside the sandstone cave space to "meditate, write", enjoy the art, or even hold a wedding ceremony. The shrine took Paulette two and a half years to complete. Paulette's sculpture was the subject of a 2014 documentary entitledCavedigger.
In 2014, Paulette described his artistic approach:
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.
You can see more of his creation at the video below.