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  Photos By Whitney Tressel Among Features At YSU’s McDonough Museum  
  August 23 - October 26:   August 15, 2019 Edition  
     The works of three accomplished female artists, Whitney Tressel, Dana Oldfather and Julie Mehrety, will be featured in the fall season opening exhibit at the McDonough Museum of Art on the campus of Youngstown State University. An opening reception is set for 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, at the museum.
      The exhibits, on view through Oct. 26, include:
       •Whitney Tressel, who grew-up in Boardman, whose works are from her America Still. A travel photographer, Tressel’s photographic talents have impacted such organizations as Google, National Geographic, New York Times Student Journeys, Budget Travel Magazine and Esquire Magazine. For the past two years she has traversed North America solo in her 1985 Toyota Dolphin truck camper capturing a sense of place amongst the diverse sets of American landscape.
       •Dana Oldfather, Cleveland native, whose paintings are part of numerous public and corporate collections and have been exhibited in galleries and museums across the country in Out of the Woods Into the Weeds. Oldfather has twice received the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and had residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and Zygote Press. Her work has been exhibited nationally at the Library Street Collective, Detroit, Zg Gallery, Chicago and Kathryn Markel Fine Art, New York. She currently works and lives just outside Cleveland.
       •Julie Mehretu is a printmaker, a MacArthur Fellowship recipient and U.S. State Department Medal of Arts awardee. Her works are titled Excavations. Mehretu has participated in numerous international exhibitions and biennials and has received international recognition for her work, including the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and currently lives and works in New York.
      The McDonough is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 330-941-1400 or visit
      Tressel, 34, is a graduate of Boardman High School. She is the daughter of YSU president Jim Tressel; and Carol Zabel, manager of the Diabetes Education Department at Mercy Health; and grew-up on Westport Dr. in Boardman. Whitney left New York City at the end of March, 2017 and immediately started searching for the perfect van-camper-RV-trailer. After looking at more than 30 campers, she narrowed it to a Toyota camper.
      “It made a world of a difference when I could fully stand up straight in what would be my home, car, and office for an open-ended amount of time,” said Tressel. ” When I was down in Florida, I saw the 1985 Toyota Dolphin posted through Auto Trader up in Pennsylvania. I knew even through the pictures that this was ‘the one.’ I bought her (named her Penny Lane) May 1 and hit the road by May 15.”
      Living in a camper full-time was never her dream.
      “I’m often sidelined by folks expressing to me that I’m living their [dream], but for me, it was a pretty natural decision. I’m a travel photographer and road trip producer who was rarely in my New York City-priced apartment, so I thought, ‘why not live on the actual road?’ When I transitioned in the spring of 2017 from a wild and fulfilling nine-year stint in New York City, it was hard for me to pick where to go next.
      “I thought Denver, Pittsburgh, Austin, Los Angeles… but none [of these cities] felt quite right at that time. I figured I’d just buy a cheap camper and explore many places rather than just one. After all, I can theoretically do my job from anywhere. It’s not nearly as glamorous as vanlife makes it look, nor as freeing as I expected, but it’s definitely a special way to live,” Tressel says.
      She says that she loves her mode of transportation, sometimes even more than the destination she’s headed to.
      “Planes, trains, and automobiles alike, I now get to live in my happy place, literally. I’m used to small spaces, know people all around the country, and have already been to 49 of 50 states before this adventure. A friend recently described me as, ‘a professional traveler,’ which I never really thought about and now identify with that description even more so than professional photographer,” Tressel said.
      Asked to share some of her travel highlights from camper life, she noted “The surprises! Arriving after dark somewhere to set up camp having no visual idea where you are is certainly unnerving, but it is so thrilling when you wake to an unexpected, breathtaking scene.
      “That always reminds me of one of the reasons I’m out here---to feel alive and to discover.
      “But can I pick a second highlight? The people. They are a surprise within themselves. One of my heroes, Brene Brown, says ‘People are hard to hate close up,’ and that could not be truer than on the road.
      “The country doesn’t look so kind right now from a broad view---from the couch, from social media feeds, from the ‘he-said and she-said,’ but up close, qualitative and face-to-face, people from every background, race, spiritual belief, political stance, gender and age are so innately kind, and also very much alike. That is another reason why I decided to be in the camper in-country, rather than [go abroad]. I want to experience all of the United States, this time post-divisive election, in detail and in person. So far, for the most part, I’ve found that strangers have been a bottomless well of generosity.”
      “Up close, qualitative and face-to-face, people from every background, race, spiritual belief, political stance, gender and age are so innately kind, and also very much alike.”
      Whitney Tressel
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