An artist who creates only for art’s sake is, unfortunately, a rarity. Whether trying to produce pieces that will sell or working with a client who has a vision of their own, it can be challenging for an artist that wants to work completely alone. But, it’s hard to inspire others (or make money) working completely and totally alone. Enter: Ra Paulette, an artist whose determined dedication to working alone has brought him at least some attention.
Paulette has become famous for his carved caves, which he makes in the desert of New Mexico. Some he finds and simply decorates with elaborate carvings, others, he makes himself into sandstone bluffs and cliffs. It’s a grueling, arduous process that involves both intense attention to detail and backbreaking manual labor hauling dirt. His only company? His dog. Paulette was the subject of Cavedigger, a 2014 short documentary that was nominated for an Academy Award. You can buy it here for $2.50; it’s well worth it.
Paulette has made about a dozen caves. Some are on private property (and can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars), others are just left in the desert for others to discover. No two are the same, but they’re all elaborately carved, with benches, stairs, nooks for candles, windows, doors, and more. If you’re interested in touring the one-of-a-kind spaces, here’s one place that offers visitors a chance to enter a carved cave for a spiritual, meditative experience.