I fell in love with Cornell’s campus the minute I arrived. I remember wandering around after picking up my ID card, staring in all directions except the one I was walking in. Lush green lawns stretched across the quad. Water cascaded through the Uris garden. A Greek column-adorned rotunda reposed between two imposing concrete behemoths. Whatever a college campus could have, Cornell had it all. Having only visited urban campuses, I walked at a snail’s pace across Thurston Bridge, gloating in my head at my high school friends. A waterfall right outside my dorm? Was this even real?
One of my proudest moments during my first semester was the day I didn’t use Google Maps to get to a novel building. Over the years, of course, more and more of the campus became familiar as classes and events spread me further. Somewhere down the line, my Facebook profile started describing me as “from Ithaca, New York.” I kept my meal plan after I moved to Collegetown. I only worked in Olin or Duffield, never at home. And, although Cornell’s buildings hosted some of my most disastrous examinations in addition to the fondest memories, I readily call this place home.
Though I had the fortune to remain in Ithaca during the shutdown, most did not, and the unnatural quiet of the Arts Quad and the Slope serve as a reminder of the experiences that were taken from us as we were forced to leave.
As photographers, we are acutely aware of the dramatic change in perspective that can be caused by a slight shift in position, and this is especially true for aerial imagery. There have been tens of thousands of pictures of this campus taken from ground level, but far fewer from the air. Additionally, I felt that Cornell deserved to be seen through a more meditative, thoughtful lens, inspired by the works of Michael Shainblum.
It’s essential during these times that we remain connected to what we cherish, and I surely speak for thousands by saying that I cherish this place — the experiences it represents, the memories it’s created and the immeasurable impact it’s had on my life and career. I hope this film stirs some spirit of celebration of what brought us all together in the first place.
Apurva Koti is a senior in the College of Engineering. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.