You may have heard of the Painted Desert, but how about a painted mountain? Salvation Mountain is a monumental example of outsider art, and one man’s dream turned into a destination. It’s also where we had our most recent photo shoot, which was all about celebrating love — a strong sentiment shared by this setting. Read on to learn all about this magic mountain. Just east of the Salton Sea in southern California, Salvation Mountain radiates out of the surrounding dusty desert landscape. There are caves and crevices, peaks and pathways, all coated in colorful patterns and passages about love, repentance, and acceptance. For about 30 years, it has been a place where people come to explore, to marvel at its size and scope, and to reflect on the messages it represents.
Leonard Knight was the man who made this mountain. Back in the early 1980s, he was inspired to somehow share his devotion with the world. Originally, he wanted to travel the country in a hot air balloon, but while visiting his sister in San Diego, he came across this spot and his vision took form.
Knight spent over three decades constructing and maintaining his mountain. He built it out of hay bales and adobe, carrying his materials up and down the hillside as he worked well into his seventies. Over half a million gallons of paint were poured into it, all donated by people who would visit the area or camp nearby.
For Knight, Salvation Mountain was truly his life’s passion. He lived onsite, had no electricity or running water, and slept in an old firetruck. He was recognized and revered by many as a folk art hero and an eccentric visionary. Knight passed away in 2014 at the age of 83, but Salvation Mountain lives on.
Nowadays, the upkeep is a group effort. Residents of Slab City, a nearby camp community, share the responsibilities of maintenance and serve as voluntary tour guides for visitors.
There are even a few cats who call this place home, and we were lucky enough to meet some of them during our photoshoot.
Knight’s colorful creation provided the perfect backdrop for our shoot. We loved how some of the patterns and designs were subtly mimicked and matched by the prints our models wore.
Pictured: Central Park Processional Dress, Radiance in Real Time Dress, You’re Flowing Places Dress, East Beach Engagement Dress
This whimsical locale kept us inspired and uplifted, even in the harsh desert heat and sun. Most of all, we were excited to feature this national treasure and share Knight’s masterpiece and message: Love is universal.