This article is about the passing of Leonard Knight, the creator of Salvation Mountain. In the early 1980’s Knight was driving through the desert when he came across a hill in the community Slab City and decided to “express his pent up religious devotion.” He used adobe, straw, and gallons and gallons of donated paint to create this mountain in the desert that is adorned with biblical murals and the common theme “God is Love.” During the decades that he created this mountain, he lived out of his car with no running water or electricity. The land was even owned by the state, but all efforts to remove Leonard from the land were stopped. Now even after death Leonard is remembered, and his mountain is protected by it’s own 501c3. The Folk Art Society of America even declared Salvation Mountain a National Folk Art Monument. I’ve had the chance to visit this mountain twice in my life. Actually, this weekend I went to the desert with my family and we rode our dirt bikes to Salvation Mountain for the second time, to find that Leonard had passed. The last time we went and visited, Leonard had given us a whole tour of this impressive mountain (which is much larger and more detailed then this picture depicts) without once trying to impose his religious beliefs on us. This is very impressive seeing as he dedicated decades of his life living and breathing this artwork that preached about “God’s Love.” He instead let his artwork speak for itself. Do you think that when an artist doesn’t explain his artwork it gives it more power because the viewer can interpret it for themselves? What do you think that says about Leonard and his mountain? Also do you think that his artwork is more powerful because it basically was his lifestyle for so many years?
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