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Dr. Roberta Bondar’s latest photography exhibit
capturing at-risk birds and their migratory pathways from land, air and space
launches July 13 at the Art Gallery of Algoma
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont., July 12, 2023 — The public is invited to experience celebrated
Canadian astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar’s latest photography exhibit featuring ground-breakingnew perspectives on at-risk birds when it launches a Canada-wide tour July 13 at the Art Gallery of Algoma.
Patterns & Parallels: The Great Imperative to Survive stops first in the Sault, Dr. Bondar’s
hometown, before travelling to other galleries, museums and science centres across Canada
Dr. Bondar, who was Canada’s first woman astronaut in space, is an internationally acclaimed
photographer whose foundation is dedicated to environmental education. Her latest
photography exhibit combines images from land, air and space through a partnership with
NASA to tell the story of the migratory patterns of the Whooping Crane, Lesser Flamingo and
Piping Plover species, which are all threatened or at risk of extinction.
“The diversity and numbers of birds are declining as our changing planet tests their fragility and
resilience,” said Dr. Bondar, who is an advocate for the protection of migratory birds and their
habitats. “People want to understand more, to reverse this alarming trend, and they need
stories to bolster their commitment to the critical conservation of birds.”
A staggering three billion birds have disappeared from Canada and the United States since
1970. The exhibition is a key part of the Roberta Bondar Foundation’s Space For Birds project,
which uses photography as a tool to understand the biodiversity of nature and the impact of
human actions and climate change on bird migration and habitat loss.
Dr. Bondar travelled to Piping Plover and Whooping Crane habitats across North America,
including Texas, Oklahoma, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. To photograph Lesser
Flamingos, she travelled to Kenya and Tanzania in the East African Rift Valley. Taking up-close
photos on the ground and aerial photos from helicopters, Dr. Bondar captured the three
species from multiple perspectives. As a principal investigator with NASA’s Earth Observation
group, Dr. Bondar also partnered with astronauts aboard the International Space Station to
photograph the vast distances of migratory corridors from space.
“Through these images, we enter the world of bird migration, from the Western to the Eastern
Hemisphere. Their flight corridors are so large that we cannot capture them in one image from
space, whereas the aerial photographs expose secret patterns of land and water, frequented by
birds. Given that many bird behaviours mimic our own, we understand that the value of life is
shared, and we want to minimize our impact on their needed habitats to allow them to survive,”
said Dr. Bondar.
The exhibition features large, dramatic colour images taken by Dr. Bondar and selected NASA
space images, as well as video installations. QR codes at the exhibition create an interactive
learning experience, allowing visitors access to digital learning opportunities including
animations, audio from Dr. Bondar, and additional videos taken in the field.
“Dr. Bondar brilliantly and masterfully intertwines her passion for art, science and our planet in
this exhibition. These esthetically incredible photographs are very detailed regardless of how
they are taken – from the land or flying in a helicopter. Some look like abstract paintings or
surreal images coming from imagination and capturing magic. The artist is inviting us to enter
the world of birds and learn about their journey for survival. The amazing beauty of nature, the
birds themselves and their habitats, the main subjects of the photographs, are captured with
astonishing precision and love, asking the viewer to pause and consider the effects of
environmental issues for all life on our planet,“ said Jasmina Jovanovic, Executive Director of the
Art Gallery of Algoma.
Dr. Bondar’s photography has been exhibited in galleries across Canada and internationally. A
signature piece from the Patterns and Parallels exhibition is currently on display in the Senate
of Canada. Through the environmental education and research programs of the Roberta Bondar
Foundation, photography brings people closer to the natural world building hope for the future.
About the Roberta Bondar Foundation
The Roberta Bondar Foundation is a not-for-profit charitable organization that takes an
inspiring approach to understanding our growing environmental challenges. The Foundation
fuses environmental science and visual art through nature photography to bring people closer
to nature. The Foundation’s programs are designed to promote curiosity, respect for and
protection of the environment while building healthier lives.
About the Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA)
The AGA was incorporated as a non-profit public gallery in 1975 by a group of dedicated
volunteers and arts enthusiasts, and is based on the ideals of celebrating culture, educating
visitors, and enriching lives through the visual arts.
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