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Working with "Roberta"

This last week, we shot video for the Roberta Bondar Foundation — in town to mark the opening of their travelling exhibition of stunning photographs created by Dr. Roberta Bondar herself.

We followed Roberta (she apparently hates to be called by “Dr. Bondar” we learned) with our video cameras, microphones and lights for three days as she spent time speaking to crowded rooms from the Galaxy Cinemas to the Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA).  She had a hectic schedule of talks and meet-and-greets, and I admit she was looking a bit tired by the third day of rushing around our fair town.  Still, despite the difficult schedule she kept, she always kept in good humour, graciously greeting the demands upon her.

Here at Molly Media Studios, we were excited to be working with Dr. Bondar (yes, I feel very strange calling her “Roberta”).  She had been a hero of Darren’s since her space flight 20 years ago when she had flown as Canada’s first female astronaut in space.  Her drive and determination had borne her through 18 years of higher education, earning her 3 doctorates, a medical degree, a specialization in neuroscience, with 8 of those years spent training 24/7 for her eventual space flight upon the Space Shuttle Discovery.  She is a source of inspiration for women everywhere, and us all, and we were thrilled to get the call to video her goings-on about town.

Despite difficult lighting situations and poor acoustical locations, our video cameras and mics were busy most of the time she was here.  She gave four different talks during her trip to the Sault, each the topic of the work of the Bondar Foundation and their Bondar Challenge.

The Bondar Challenge

The Bondar Challenge seeks to explore the interstices of art and science in the minds of middle and high school students.  To take the Bondar Challenge means that the student will photograph some kind of environmental photo that explores the theme “biodiversity and extinction” in nature, and then write a 500 word essay on both the science and art inherent within the image.  Winners of the Bondar Challenge are chosen from different cities and geographical areas, and both the winners and honorable mentions from any one region are given public showing alongside Dr. Bondar’s own photos on the same theme.

Art is an exceptionally effective way of broaching the science of biodiversity and extinction.  Through art, people connect with these issues in ways that the language of science just might not convey for some.  Art provides a window into science, and provides a language to speak on these issues at a time and place where language might otherwise fail the speaker.  One need only look at Dr. Bondar’s stunning large-scale photographs to understand that they speak to the viewer in a way that enables comprehension, connection and communication.

The Art Gallery of Algoma is showing this travelling exhibition until 11 December 2011.  If you don’t live in the Sault, then navigate to the Foundation site (http://www.therobertabondarfoundation.org/) to find out how to bring the travelling exhibition to your area.

You won’t be disappointed.

The following pics were taken during two of Dr. Bondar’s speaking engagements, both held at the AGA.  Some of them are from a talk to Grade 9 students from each school in the Sault, and the others are from her talk later that evening at the Opening Gala for the show.  We don’t profess to know all the names of the people in the photos, so we’re not going to even try!

Some Photos

Students gather at the Roberta Bondar Foundation Travelling Exhibition. Molly Media Studios was there to video the event.