Pilgrims travel thousands of miles to visit Salvation Mountain, a unique religious structure in the Southern California desert. Built by Leonard Knight (1931-2014), variously described as a modern-day prophet and an outsider artist, Salvation Mountain offers a message of divine love for humanity. In Middle of Nowhere Sara M. Patterson argues that Knight was a spiritual descendant of the early Christian desert ascetics who escaped to the desert in order to experience God more fully. Like his early Christian predecessors, Knight received visitors from all over the world who were seeking his wisdom. In Knight's wisdom they found a critique of capitalism, a challenge to religious divisions, and a celebration of the common person. Recounting the pilgrims' stories, Middle of Nowhere examines how Knight and the pilgrims constructed a sacred space, one that is now crumbling since the death of its creator.
"Patterson exhibits a remarkable talent for making theory accessible to a broader audience. . . . Patterson's book exhibits some of the best of the academic study of religion."--Reading Religion
"Middle of Nowhere is a highly readable account that also evokes the mystery and pathos of the place."--Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief
"Sara Patterson deftly situates Salvation Mountain within the important setting of the harsh desert from which it rises, the passionate responses of those who trekked to see artist and work, and the Evangelical religion that inspired the artist and sings loudly in the colorful mountain, even as it now slowly returns to the nowhere whence it came."
--David Morgan, author of The Embodied Eye: Religious Visual Culture and the Social Life of Feeling