Incredibly Tough: Finding Opportunity in Adversity

In your career and life whether you are starting out or starting over, adopting and embracing the right mindset is important particularly if you are blazing a new trail. When facing the unknown, it is important to find ways to embrace it and the opportunities that come with it. Our mission at Project Eve is to inspire others when we celebrate the successes of individuals that chart new courses and triumph amid adversity. With that in mind, Project Eve is thrilled to work with Corning® Gorilla® Glass to share the story of Renan Ozturk from their Incredibly Tough Video Series. In it, we’ll see how Renan has merged his passion for art and climbing turning them into a single way of life. The Incredibly Tough Video Series highlights the amazing stories of incredibly tough people, using incredibly tough devices, to do incredibly tough things.

Earlier this month Gorilla® Glass premiered its video Art at the Roof of the World, featuring Renan Ozturk. While studying biology at Colorado College, Renan never could have envisioned a career as a climber, artist, and filmmaker. However, after graduating, when Renan gave away all his belongings and wandered into Canyonlands, Utah to pursue his passion for climbing he embraced the unknown and an unscripted life. For the next six years, Renan lived outdoors in national parks across North America. At times he would climb until his hands were raw. He took rest days to let them heal while developing his artistic skills and style by painting the landscapes around him. He lived amid otherworldly landscapes in an immersive way and created art that reflected that.

Over time, Renan’s art flourished in sketchbooks and then grew into large canvases laid out across the ground amid the tall peaks. As Renan started to gain recognition in the art world, he was also building his credentials as a climber. Renan’s climbing resume includes first summits on mountains like the Shark’s Fin on Meru Peak in the Himalayas and The Cat’s Ear Spire in Denali. Eventually, that artistic work expanded to include filmmaking so he could convey a broader narrative about the remote expeditions he was going on.

Renan’s approach to his work in both fields is unconventional as well. He sets broad goals and keeps the means to achieve them open-ended rather than setting them in stone. He notes that “adventure is unscripted. You have to keep your eyes and ears open to find the moments.” Although Renan takes a broad approach to goal setting, he firmly believes you need to have the skills necessary to achieve them. “You have to wake up every day to get yourself towards it.” In both art and climbing, Renan’s free-flowing method has helped him adapt when faced with obstacles and see art as well as opportunity in adversity.

The high rewards of Renan’s adventurous lifestyle come with risks.  Several years ago, with only months to go before an attempt at a first-summit of Meru in the Himalayas, he was nearly killed in a ski accident. The accident resulted in cranial and spinal fractures. Although some folks might have canceled the expedition, Renan’s passion for climbing fueled his recovery. Renan notes: “If you have that thing that’s really inspiring you, it’s amazing what you can do.” Inspired by the opportunity to summit Meru, he recovered in time to make the trip. Not only did he and his friends make it to the summit they turned their expedition into a film. In developing the film, Renan not only documented the climb that involved enduring temperatures that hovered around -20˚ during twelve days they lived on the wall of the mountain but also documented the hardships he and his friends overcame to make it there. The result was an invitation to premiere his film at Sundance! The ultimate example of making the most of what you have and the path you took to get there!

If you haven’t already done so, don’t miss the opportunity to take a look at Renan’s recent trip to the Himalayas to create another work of art in the video above.

A special thank you to Corning Incorporated for sponsoring this post.

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