Project Edge: Amplify Good / by Mahting Putelis

 Rhiannon Klee: Artist and Adventurer

Rhiannon Klee: Artist and Adventurer

The 2018 Legendeer Appalachia Expedition was a success.  I pushed my professional edge and believe I am better for it.  Officially I work for Legendeer as the Lead Guide. It is my job to oversee the adventure component and make sure everyone stays safe and has a peak adventure, described by scholar Simon Priest as the perfect amount of perceived risk coupled with competence.  I enjoy this job because it allows me to build trust with the participants and trust is a key piece of my newly conceived project.  

The side benefit of this job is that I get to push my inner edge as a human while I facilitate portrait session with the participants. These portrait sessions have been described by participants as a kind of therapy session. I work through a timeline: what brought you here, how have you grown while here, how do you use that in your work moving forward. The questions are personal; I dive deep and it is at times uncomfortable. The questions are demanding. This year I came to the expedition prepared to dial in my process. Creating this ven diagram and word map was a big part of crystalizing why and how I accomplish my portrait project. 

 There are three key pieces to a successful portrait session: a willing participant, a guided or shared adventure and personal growth. These three combine to create a moment in which trust is shared, reflection facilitated and an image captured.  

There are three key pieces to a successful portrait session: a willing participant, a guided or shared adventure and personal growth. These three combine to create a moment in which trust is shared, reflection facilitated and an image captured.  

Specifically, the Legendeer Portrait Project grew out of my desire to push my ability as a photographer. It morphed into a way to give back to the Legendeer community by creating a scholarship fund as well as pay forward a good deed done on my behalf when I was graduating high school. Last year's portrait project was my first official art show and we raised enough money to send Bronson Call to Appalachia. Check out his work - it's rad! 

This year, due to life choices I've made, commercial photography has started to take a backseat to growing Hunt To Eat, my lifestyle apparel brand for hunters. However, having had another series of amazing conversations and capturing profound moments of growth of this year's class of Legendeers, I realized that this is when I see my best self in action. 

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Movement was the key theme in this years expedition, specifically conscious movement, so we explored it at lengths. A fantastic way to meld both internal and external conscious movement is deep water soloing. It demands that the participant focus on controlling the movement of their mind as it races around quantifying risk and demands that each outward movement is precise. Even the process of falling or jumping must be calculated.   For many of the participants, I managed the risk by limiting the height of their adventure. Rhiannon, however, was an outlier. 

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Through multiple adventures and conversations, I grew to understand Rhiannon's level of competency as a rock climber. This was crucial because it allowed me to facilitate an opportunity for Rhiannon to have a peak adventure.  

 Rhiannon in the midst of Peak Adventure.

Rhiannon in the midst of Peak Adventure.

The beautiful aspect of the Legendeer program is that we meld together adventure and art. This brings a unique type of person to our program. In general, they are highly reflective of their process both as artists and as humans. As an example, I will let Rhiannon's words speak for her.  

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This week at #Legendeer18, I met an incredible group of creatives, all hungry to uncover their voice in this world. “What do you want?”, they asked. The oh-so-simple but oh-so-monumental question was posed to me as casually as it sounds.
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The answer is: I want to adventure and I want to create. AND, I want it to matter. Saying these truths out loud to the world is WAY scarier than climbing high above a slate of water. Scary, but oh-so-necessary, in order to move forward with conviction.
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So, the question begs: what do you want??
Be #legendareful
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I’ve wanted “to be an artist” my whole life. My hands are fidgety and my mind is wandering. Art makes me feel grounded. Despite my gravity towards creating, at some point I set the dream aside because I got the loud and clear message from the world that art is fickle and unsustainable.
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Still, my college notes were overtaken with doodles and diagrams and I always envisioned myself paint smothered in a studio when I thought of a future self. A few years after college following my first heartbreak, I took a whirlwind international trip that made me expand beyond the self I thought I knew. I used art to sift though and extricate the little moments, as well as the big. I reached in and grabbed a part of me that I’d buried away and saved for later. I made a small promise to myself that I would give art a fair shot.
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Since then, I’ve made baby steps towards growing my skill set and exploring ideas. When I think my work sucks, I bury my head and continue to create. It’s been slow growth and much of what I’ve learnt is through trial and error, but it feeds me to the brim and I don’t foresee myself putting down the paintbrushes anytime soon.
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Moving forward, I hope I can share some of the stories that hide beneath the surface of the paint because that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
 As a one time gymnast, Rhiannon showcased not only spectacular climbing ability but also tremendous body awarness as she flipped away from the wall. 

As a one time gymnast, Rhiannon showcased not only spectacular climbing ability but also tremendous body awarness as she flipped away from the wall. 

Our voice is our story. I am learning we must give voice to not just one story but at times many. We are not one dimensional. Currently, I am in the midst of giving ample voice to Mahting the Hunter, Mahting the Conservationist and Mahting the Adventure Photographer. It is a dance. Much like deep water soloing, it demands conscious inward and outward movement. Part of my dance is to create what I am calling Project Edge: Amplify Good. The goal of the project is to amplify the stories of humans who engage the inner and outer edges of life in order to do good in the world. If you believe you know of a person who has a story worth amplifying please let me know.  I leave you with this: live a life you love. Be daring. Do Good!

 The Powerful Rhiannon Klee!

The Powerful Rhiannon Klee!

I present to you, Rhiannon Klee. Through her exploration of self via climbing, adventure and art she is a powerful force for good. It is through adventure and art that she is able to come back into the world and work with women in a wilderness therapy setting to effect change. Soon she will be heading out into the Wind River Range to climb and document the adventure via journal-style art in hopes that it will energize other women to get out and get after it in wild places.  She is still looking for support for this adventure. If you believe you or your brand align with Rhiannon and you'd like to support her please reach out to me and I can connect you.   

    Rhiannon explores wild places and brings back art in hopes of inspiring women to embark on their own adventures. The Sierra skyline, featured above, is an example of a rugged landscape portrayed through a feminine lens. 

 

Rhiannon explores wild places and brings back art in hopes of inspiring women to embark on their own adventures. The Sierra skyline, featured above, is an example of a rugged landscape portrayed through a feminine lens.