~ The Great Imperative to Survive
“Colt & Parent“. 2019. An endangered Whooping Crane adult stretches its wing as it stands with its young colt on the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, along the edge of the Texas shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Patterns & Parallels: The Great Imperative to Survive is an exhibition of selected high-resolution images from the project, Space for Birds. By integrating three perspectives of migratory bird corridors—space, aerial and surface—this global, emotional story encourages ethical protection of fragile, endangered, and threatened avian species and the habitats they need to survive. It infuses the creative, artistic elements of the natural world with the energy of curiosity for things that science attempts to understand. In this exhibition, three endangered and threatened migratory birds that cross international boundaries – the Whooping Crane, the Lesser Flamingo, and the Piping Plover – are footholds in a new consciousness of the natural world that is completely exposed to the Earth within, and the universe beyond. Sustainability of life means understanding the complexities of integrating the natural world with one that is of human construct. To protect life that cannot protect itself from human impact and the challenges of climate change, we must engage ethically in lives beyond our own to find meaning for our own.
“Spaceflight gave me insight into our living planet as I witnessed Earth from above. Photography continues to enable me to share the view and the vision. My high-resolution digital photographs reveal Earth’s natural environment, through the lenses of astronaut, medical doctor, photographer, scientist, writer, and zoologist, to create visual stories of hope and inspiration that connect and reconnect people to the natural world of Earth. My real-time space experience heavily influences my unique aerial and surface images, where I deliberately emphasize the horizon, oblique lines, irregular shapes, contours, patterns within patterns, contrasts, and dynamic colour.”Roberta L Bondar C.C. O.Ont. M.D. Ph.D. FRCP FRSC FRCGS
On her spaceflight STS 42, Discovery, Dr. Bondar flew as do all current astronauts, across international boundaries much like migratory birds. A Principal Investigator (Migratory Birds) with NASA’s Earth Observation group, Dr. Bondar submitted coordinates of bird migration corridors that were uploaded to astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to form the space perspective. All aerial images are the artistic interpretation of Dr. Bondar who photographed the landscape below with a high-resolution full frame medium format digital camera from helicopters, usually without doors. For surface images, Dr. Bondar used a full-frame DSLR (digital single lens reflex) or a mirrorless digital camera, all matched with the highest optical quality telephoto lenses.
“Saskatchewan, Atmospheric Limb“. 2018. Taken from the Internation Space Station. Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center.
Dr. Bondar travelled extensively, crossing many parallels of latitude as do her avian subjects. She followed their migration by boat, helicopter, airplane, SUV and safari vehicles, from the Canadian Northwest Territories through the Prairies and US Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida; from Tanzania’s Lake Natron up through Kenya’s portion of the East African Rift Valley.
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, such as the one below.
The exhibition’s latest location was at Science North in Sudbury, Ontario from November 9th, 2023 – January 7th, 2024.
Stay tuned for the next location of the exhibition!
Patterns & Parallels: The Great Imperative to Survive and the Space for Birds project of the Roberta Bondar Foundation (RBF) are made possible through the contributions of donors, foundations, corporations and partnering organizations. We are deeply grateful for their generosity and offer our thanks to:
Canada Summer Jobs (Government of Canada)
Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation
ECO Canada Employment Porgram
Gordon & Patricia Gray Animal Welfare Foundation
Power Corporation of Canada
RBC Tech for Nature (RBC Foundation)