Yesterday, I drove to the middle of nowhere in California -- out of the glistening pools of Palm Springs; past the suburbs of Coachella; through farm land, then desert land; past date plantations; along the Salton Sea, riddled with abandoned property, to finally reach one of the greatest folk art treasures in the United States: Salvation Mountain.
Situated in a community characterized by both poverty and divergence from the system, Salvation Mountain stands as a monument to one man's dedication to his faith and determination to tell the story of Jesus. Created over the span of 30 years by Leonard Knight (1931-2014), Salvation Mountain is made of clay from the earth mixed with straw and covered with hundreds and hundreds of gallons of latex paint. It is a fragile monument set upon a dune in the middle of the desert, and has faced imminent ruin many times. Since Mr. Knight's death in 2014, it is presided over by a non-profit organization, which helps to maintain the site and share Mr. Knight's story of diligence and perseverance and above all else, faith.
In anticipation of my visit to the site (which I'd been longing to see for many years), I made a necklace inspired by Mr. Knight's work of art. While creating this miniature replica of a tiny piece of Salvation Mountain, I couldn't help but marvel at the determination and skill with which Mr. Knight wrangled a barren sand dune into a colorful homage.
Photos by Hilary Pollack.