Rest in Peace, Leonard Knight: Salton Sea Artist

Chris Higgins
YouTube / Ransom Riggs
YouTube / Ransom Riggs / YouTube / Ransom Riggs

Leonard Knight passed away yesterday at age 82. He was the artist who built Salvation Mountain, a massive installation located near the Salton Sea in California. Knight spent three decades making his mountain, applying coats of paint donated by visitors, building sculptural elements of mud and straw and tires, and living on his own out there. He's probably best known for his appearance in Into the Wild, though anyone who visited the area could just walk up and spend time with him.

In 2009 and again in 2011, our friend Ransom Riggs visited the Salton Sea and photographed what he saw there—including Knight and his mountain. Riggs made a film about the experience, with Knight and the mountain at the end. Here it is:

You can see a few more photos of Knight on Ransom's Tumblr.

For more on Knight, here's a nice eight-minute VICE documentary exploring the mountain: