Burritts Rapids resident, Andrea Cordonier, hosted her first solo photographic exhibition, ‘ELEMENTAL’, at an invitation-only event held recently at Geronimo Coffee House in Kemptville. The event saw fifty people wander through the unique space, appreciating her ability to capture both beautiful and meaningful moments. The displayed photos themselves were in black and white, but the source of the content is anything but.

Andrea was touched by the fascinating story of Vivian Maier, a nanny who took over 150,000 photos, primarily of the people and architecture of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Despite her prolific output and remarkable natural talent, her work wasn’t discovered and published until after she had died. Having taken thousands of unpublished photos of her own over thirty years, Andrea decided that now was the time to act, and her ‘ELEMENTAL’ exhibit was born.

For someone with such an obvious talent, you would normally assume that photography was her passion and her muse. However, if you are fortunate enough to sit down with her, you’ll see and hear a woman of extraordinary purpose, who finds “everything interesting”. She has travelled extensively, and takes out her camera at every opportunity. Her natural curiosity often leads her on long walks around a city and to have fascinating conversations with complete strangers.

Being a mother of four children meant that shooting was often done “with kids in tow, who threatened to run on to the road, or fall off cliffs, leaving only seconds to capture whatever had caught my eye”. Born a year and a half apart, all four children “have had an unfathomable influence on her personhood”. Perhaps this is where she developed her philosophy that “life is one big experiment and good ideas take time”. She met her future husband on a train between London and Paris, which sounds like something plucked right out of a novel.

She graduated from trade school with honours in Advanced Housing (Green Building), and currently works in general management consulting. This type of work requires “doing whatever the client needs done” and “billing by the hour”. Her consulting company offers strategic planning and implementation with a focus on community development.

In a press release about the exhibit, the first line reads: “The first thing you should know about Andrea Cordonier is she doesn’t fit into a neat box”. Chatting over an americano, you see the absolute truth in that statement, as she glides effortlessly between subjects from photography to the latest best practices on how to create affordable housing. This is the first show from Andrea, but, after talking to her and hearing what she has to say and, maybe more importantly, what she doesn’t say, you’re left with the distinct impression that it’s not the last time that you’ll hear her name.

The exhibition can be viewed at Geronimo Coffee House in Downtown Kemptville during regular store hours (Monday to Friday 7-4, and Saturday and Sunday from 9-4) until October 30.

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