Nourishing the Soul with Water
THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF KAREN GLOSSER
Karen Glosser is a fine-art nature photographer who finds inspiration throughout her native Western New York. As a child growing up in Jamestown, she loved the outdoors and spent her days exploring a nearby wooded lot. Glosser left the area to attend college, studying elementary education. She returned after school and found work in retail. She loved the work, which eventually led to her starting her own fashion retail business.
Later, Glosser began to make her own jewelry, becoming skilled in metalwork. At this time, she’d also take photos with her phone of anything that caught her eye, which might later inspire her designs. She’d promote her jewelry on social media, finding that her images often garnered their own praise, so her focus turned toward photography. As her interest in photography grew, she would get in the car with her camera and drive until something, or some place, spoke to her. This process took her back to the areas she had always loved—wild places.
Although it was not a conscious decision, Glosser often found herself on the shores of Lake Erie. She was drawn to water. It quieted her mind, brought clarity and solace and put her soul at ease. She realized that when she was shooting at the lake, she would lose all sense of time and capturing it soon became her passion. During this period, she was also recovering from Achilles tendon surgery and walking through the sand strengthened her leg. She found healing, felt gratitude and knew that she was where she was supposed to be. This compelled her to create a body of work that not only communicated beauty visually through the lens, but also conveyed the emotion and peace she experienced near the water. She had found her destination.
As Glosser spent more and more time at Lake Erie, she began to see the body of water as a living, breathing soul, with a distinct personality and changing moods. While there were many calm, sun-filled days, many others were less serene. As the shallowest of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie can have quickly changing weather conditions and water capable of becoming rough and violent. Glosser came to love wild, turbulent, big wave days, creating some of her favorite images while experiencing the angry power of the lake on a stormy day.
While preparing for Soulscape, an exhibit that would showcase this body of work, Glosser came across a book by Wallace J. Nichols called Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. Based on scientific research, Blue Mind discusses the importance of water and how it affects our brain. According to Nichols, a marine biologist, Blue Mind refers to a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peace, unity and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. This resonated deeply with Glosser.
The Blue Mind movement encourages people to enrich their lives through the benefits of being near water. Proximity to water can reduce stress, bring peace, increase creativity, and nourish and support life. While playing in the sun and surf on a trip to the ocean provides this Blue Mind effect, it can be experienced much closer to home. We are lucky to be surrounded by water in Western New York. But it can also be something quite simple: taking a long, hot bath, drinking a glass of water or swimming laps at a pool.
One way that we can all promote the idea of Blue Mind is through the Blue Marbles Project, which began with the idea of passing a blue marble through the hands of every person on Earth. A blue marble symbolizes our beautiful planet, 71 percent of which is covered by water. Sharing a blue marble with someone is meant to spread awareness of and gratitude for protecting our fragile, blue planet in a fun and positive way. The marbles are passed from one person to the next with the simple and important message that water is life.
Having experienced this Blue Mind throughout her time spent photographing our local waters, Glosser immediately felt connected to the movement and became a Blue Mind Life ambassador. Glosser shares her love of water not only through her imagery, but also by encouraging people to get close to water, to appreciate water and to become active participants in protecting our wild waters.
Glosser truly learned to love Lake Erie in each of its moods. And though she still loves working in all of nature, Lake Erie holds a special place in her heart and she cares deeply about its conservation and preservation.
“The Great Lakes are truly inland seas and we are so incredibly fortunate with where we live,” she says. “Our lakes, rivers and streams play an immense role in our lives, directly and indirectly; roles some people may not even be aware of. It’s all around us. I think that our world would be a really lovely place if everybody could just experience the benefits of water. When we learn to love the water and appreciate the water, we learn to care for the water.”
For many, the term “lake effect” immediately conjures visions of blustery snow and bitter cold, but Glosser would like you to consider a different meaning: one that suggests the feeling one gets from sitting next to a lake, floating on the water or gazing at a sunset glistening on the surface of a lake. These senses of joy, peace and gratitude are her “lake effect.” And she has found it to be her soul’s home.
> Her work can be found at karenglosser.com and Portage Hill Art Gallery in Mayville.