Tomorrow night (Friday, October 28), Bob Rauschenberg Gallery on the Lee campus of Edison State College hosts a reception for photographer Karen Glaser, whose exhibition “The Mark of Water: Florida’s Springs and Swamps” opened October 21st. Ms. Glaser will also present a Gallery Talk lecture that begins at 7 p.m.
For more than two decades, Karen Glaser has been photographing underwater ecosystems, including saltwater oceans, freshwater springs, outdoor swimming pools, and wild swamplands. Taking her camera both above and below the surface of America’s coastal waters and Florida’s wetlands, she has captured diverse forms of life that have existed since prehistoric times. Glaser’s photographs of these remote spaces have a timeless quality that evokes the style of scientific illustrations and idealized paintings that were frequently created prior to the invention of photography. Taken with a 35mm camera and only using available light, the images appear distinctively grainy, further abstracting these rarely seen worlds. They elevate the complexity and fragility of aquatic systems that lie beyond the day-to-day perspective of most people.
Her photography for this exhibition was made “inside” Florida’s springs, swamps and waterways, and it provides a unique interpretation of these distinctive environments. ”The wetland environments of Big Cypress National Preserveand Everglades National Park contain many unique ecosystems,” says Glaser, “including freshwater and saltwater marshes, dry and wet prairies, hardwood hammocks, mangrove forests, vast acres of primeval swamp, and of course the river of grass. The tie that binds these extraordinary regions and these photographs together is water. Much of this underwater world is primordial, alien and disquieting; and only partially touched by the hand of culture and society.”
While most of her images appear pristine, some are clouded by the mud, muck and tannins that are common to Florida’s wetlands. While this detritus may cloud the water’s clarity, it is nevertheless its lifeblood, or as Glaser more poetically describes it, “the living and breathing matter that seasons the soup and reflects, refracts, and bends the light to create its complexity.”
Karen Glaser first became enthralled with underwater photography after she was given an Instamatic underwater camera as a birthday present in 1983. Her various underwater series, shot on tropical reefs and in pristine Florida springs, have been exhibited in numerous prestigious museums and other venues around the nation and abroad. Karen Glaser’s underwater photographs of manatees are documented in the book, Mysterious Manatees, published by the University Press of Florida. A travelling exhibition of her manatee work was organizedby the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. It then toured to more than twenty venues in the United States, including the Georgia Museum of Natural History; Ocean Life Center in Atlantic City; Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History in California; the Museum of History and Natural Sciences in Florida; the Naval Undersea Museum inKeyport, Washington; the Natural History Museum of the University of Kansas; and the Natural Science Center of Greensboro, North Carolina.
“The Mark of Water: Florida’s Springs and Swamps” will remain on exhibit at Bob Rauschenberg Gallery through December 3, 2011. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and from 11 a.m until 3 p.m. on Saturday. Please call 239-489-9313 for more information or visit the gallery online at www.rauschenberggallery.com.