Home » A+E » Photographer Robert Flischel captures best sights of Ohio State with support of Gee

Photographer Robert Flischel captures best sights of Ohio State with support of Gee

Pathways to the Heart and Mind’ is available online and at Barnes & Noble for $150 for the limited edition and $75 for the hardback copy.

As one photographer set out to create a coffee table book featuring photos of Ohio State, the campus began as a mysterious place he had yet to explore, and grew to hold much more meaning.

“When I was in college (at Xavier University) we always went to Columbus to escape Cincinnati, but we never got off High Street, so I always wondered what the university was like,” said Robert Flischel, the photographer.

Flischel, a native Ohioan, said his admiration for the university grew throughout the creation of his book “The Ohio State University: Pathways to the Heart and Mind.”

“When I started this, I thought, this is one of the great institutions in this state and another couple months in, I thought this might be one of the top organizations in the country,” Flischel said.

“Then after about another six months I thought, damn, this might be the one of the most awesome places on the planet.”

After four years and several seasons full of photography, “The Ohio State University: Pathways to the Heart and Mind” is finally completed.  

With an introduction written by President E. Gordon Gee, and anecdotes written by OSU alumnus Hugh McManus, Flischel wanted this project to embody the beauty he saw in OSU.

The project grew from Flischel’s time spent visiting the campus along with his curiosity about whether OSU already had its own coffee table book.

After driving his daughter to Columbus in her teenage years for concerts, Flischel took the extra hours he had to explore the campus around him. He began to research other coffee table books that were related to OSU and discovered the last one had been published in 1987 and was no longer in print.

“So after a couple of months of researching, I decided there was a story to tell,” Flischel said.

The landscape was one of the first sights that struck him.

“The university has made a long-term commitment to creating a campus landscape,” Flischel said.

He said he knew the university’s dedication to keeping campus beautiful would be showcased well in a coffee table book.

Kat Dickey, a third-year in accounting, agreed that the various landscapes were some of most visually interesting parts of the book.

“I really like how the different seasons are shown because places like Mirror Lake are completely different in the summer than when the lights are lit up in the winter,” Dickey said.

Jamie Luster, a first-year in public health, agreed and said it opened her eyes a little as well.

“It really captures a lot of cool scenery at Ohio State that I may not have noticed otherwise,” Luster said.

From Mirror Lake to the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library to the Horseshoe, the beauty of the scenery and buildings around campus is vast, but Flischel said one of his biggest regrets for this edition is not including more of the Ohio State Marching Band.

“We had to edit very tight and I wish I could do an entire chapter on the band, so maybe in the next edition that’s something I will add,” Flischel said.

The next edition is already in the works, to be released when the first book sells out.

Flischel said in that edition he hopes to include more photos, since he took “thousands and thousands” during the entire process, and he said what was left on the cutting room floor would make people cry.

Although this limited edition was just released in autumn 2012, Flischel said he anticipates it to sell out relatively fast since it’s the first OSU coffee table book in 25 years.

Kathy Smith, general manager at Barnes & Noble at 1598 N. High St., echoed Flischel’s outlook.

“We just launched the book this past weekend,” Smith said. “It’s really a beautiful book.”

Flischel also said he is glad Gee is a part of the book.

“I thought, here’s this charismatic leader and he is kind of a function on this campus. He loves to run around, and he is really committed to the students,” he said. “I started sending him cards with my photographs and he would send hand-written notes back. After about a year of that, I told him there was no way around it, he was going to have to write the introduction and he said, ‘No problem.'”

With an introduction from the university president, thousands of photos to chose from and four years of time invested, Flischel was able to add a fifth book to his resume of completed works.

But getting to this fifth book was not something Flischel anticipated ever doing back in 1990, when he was a “burnt out photographer.” He had been working with magazines and doing corporate work but had needed new reasons to follow his original inspiration and passion for photography.

Then one day, Flischel had an awakening moment to turn his career around.

“I fell asleep on my couch one day, and when I woke up, a Civil War documentary by Ken Burns was on, and I was struck dumb by how beautifully it was portrayed,” Flischel said. “So I thought, if he can take dusty, dirty, black and white pictures from 150 years ago and do this, then I should be able to get over being burned out and do something meaningful.”

Twenty-two years later, Flischel said he feels like his newest book is just another addition to making his photography career mean something. He said he hopes others appreciate OSU for the tradition and passion it has throughout its campus.

The 166-page book is available online at pathwaysbook.com and at Barnes & Noble for $75, and the limited edition, which includes a slipcase and is signed by Flischel, is priced at $150.

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