Mountain Dweller

about

Life up to 24 years…

Smack in the midst of my twenties, carrying a camera in my right hand on a consistent basis, a border collie tailing my every move, and typically responding to the name "Kenzi", I have been photographing since I was eleven years old and writing since my teen years. 

Life began in the sweet plains of the Dakotas, in the middle of March, where I was born into a winter storm. By the turning of age two, I became an international traveler: the rolling hills of England held my family in her arms for four, overcast years until we found ourselves assigned to a new location, one that in my mind as a child was expected to be made of desert and palm trees - I was only half right upon arrival. Turkey became more than a home for us, it became a lifestyle of love and appreciation, as it was ripped from under us with the events of 9/11 and painted in a different light that we had never seen. By age nine, I denounced my faith in secrecy and decided to believe in Earth instead, a far more accommodating religion.  My childhood, it died in that country, as I became sharply aware of how the media had an influence over our perceptions, never being able to comprehend the taste that they could leave in peoples' mouths.

Raised by the Dolomiti Alps in Northern Italy for over twelve years, tamed by the Bavarian Alps in Germany every winter season, and humbled by the ski hills of Appalachia with my first introduction to North American mountains, I began to crave grander views, bigger experiences, and chasing the feeling of small. I found my hometown nestled among the Wasatch Range of Northern Utah, soaking in everything that Utah had to offer and falling into obsession with her red, desert rocks. In my search for solace, I found myself grounding in the peaks of Wyoming and washing out with the crowd that Jackson Hole can't provide for. On my last strings and dollars, the peaks of the Madison Range called me home, took me in, and gave me a second chance. Utah welcomed me back (and my little family) with open arms when the jobs came calling and our bank accounts began begging. The Rockies have become my roots and they will see the ends of my days. 

I decided to begin writing as a form of therapy, not just for myself, but because I knew there were others carrying burdens as heavy as my own, even heavier than my own. I was birthed into this world with anxiety ingrained in me; my fingernails have remained destroyed since I was seven years old when it was discovered that I had nervous ticks. It worsened, reached its peak, in 2010 when I was raped. For years I had buried what had happened in my past only to have it resurface in a worse, more gruesome fashion. My rape, the PTSD,  my anxiety, the abusive partner, the depression - it had me in and out of doctors' offices, emergency rooms, and ambulances, eventually leading to an entire breakdown that left me with what felt like no possibility of returning to normal. After years of documentation, therapists, and doctor visits, it has been suggested that I am struggling with Bipolar Disorder at this point and thus begins the actual journey of healing. The writing became a way to mend and to help others finding healing, a place for people to find the words they could not otherwise formulate for themselves; it became my grounding factor in keeping me on this earth instead. Now, it is my outlet in the attempts to live with a quieter mind. 

As for my passion, the photography started one year with an innate desire to want to bring the world to those who could not otherwise experience it for themselves. I was dedicated to producing images that could grab your attention without being manipulated; I wanted to deliver an image that would not create an unrealistic expectation for the viewer, but instead would genuinely reflect exact feeling and visual. Nowadays, I am fighting hard to protect the sacred places of recreation that are being freely exploited in the name of popularity among social media platforms. While my dream of becoming a successful freelance creator is still in its seedling stage, I'm working up the courage needed to pursue the nutrition and hydration to see it all come to fruition. 

Last but not least: our dogs.

Zukini, My Everything. I adopted him with very little understanding of just everything he would teach me about myself while showing me exactly how to enjoy life the right way. He was found on the side of an Idahoan highway in a box along with his mother and four other siblings, by Nuzzles and Co, a local Park City animal shelter, and ultimately riding shotgun by September 9th, 2017 with me. He is a Border Collie/Mini Australian Shepard mix who turns another year older every April and steals the heart of any soul that sees his smiling little face. 

Max fell into the right place at the right time when we found him; while we are still speculating what kind of dog he is, him and Zuki have bonded well in such a short timeframe. Max had been posted on a classifieds page with no price tag attached to him and by that evening, we were letting the two dogs meet, and loading Max into our car. He seems to really enjoy his new found freedoms and we couldn’t have gotten luckier when it came to our second dog.

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If you would like to schedule a shoot or collaborate, please feel free to get in touch with me at mckenzieroers@hotmail.com 

- McKenzie Aryn 

 
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