“Sometimes I feel like an archeaologist. I’m uncovering something that’s already there.” For the past 25 years, with only his dog for company, Ra Paulette has been shaping and scraping away at sandstone caves in New Mexico, turning them into man-made caves of art. It’s pretty down and dirty work, but he doesn’t complain. “When you’re doing something that you love, and are drawn to it, you want to do it all the time,” he says. Like Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, nobody tells Paulette what to do. Alone in a cave, where he can let his imagination run free, the only thing on his mind is creating a majestic piece of work.
On the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Ra Paulette’s Luminous Caves lie hidden within a rocky sandstone mesa that appears untouched from the outside. Within it, Paulette’s labyrinthine, sculptural land art evokes Gaudi’s architecture with its high ceilings and organic, spiraling embellishments. Dug singlehandedly by the artist, the caves were envisioned as a place of spiritual reflection and community gathering for Santa Fe area’s rural communities as well as visitors. Paulette created the multi-purpose space over the course of 10 years, describing his process as an organic dance with the land. Within the awe-inspiring architecture of Luminous Caves, Paulette says he hopes to inspire his viewers to connect with the spiritual side of nature.