First published: Summer 2021

Travelling towards the town of Niland on State Route 111 in southern California, Salvation Mountain can already be seen from a distance. Out here in the desert, Leonard Knight’s colourful monument, his work of a lifetime, finds itself in a colourless setting.

 


Ron Malinowski at Salvation Mountain, in January 2020, giving Leonard Knight’s signature “double thumbs-up”
all photos by Tyll Farnschläder

Despite being in the wealthy state of California, with Palm Springs and its golf resorts nearby, Imperial Valley is one of the poorest places in the US, lacking not only colour but hope too, it can seem. But, six years after Knight’s death, his unique work stands as a beacon of positivity for the region, still speaking the simple message of its architect: God is Love.

 


inside the dome, visitors find an artificial forest

It continues to attract visitors from all over the world too. This was not expected when, in 2011, Knight went into a retirement home. Rather, people worried about the future of Salvation Mountain. Could this artificial hill made from clay, straw and latex paint be preserved?

For three decades, Knight had worked on it almost daily. Without constant upkeep, it would collapse back into the sand from which it was formed. And so a group of supporters set up a non-profit organisation to keep Knight’s work and message alive.

by Tyll Farnschläder

 

This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #108.

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