YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Whitney Tressel got her start in photography at Boardman High School. She now shoots professionally — her work has been published in publications as prestigious as National Geographic.
Friday, though, was a first for the daughter of Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel. She opened her first-ever solo photography exhibit on campus.
Friday afternoon at YSU’s McDonough Museum of Art, Whitney sat for an interview before the opening of her new exhibit titled “American Still” — 22 of her best photographs of places like a South Dakota cafe, an Arizona ghost town, the white sands of New Mexico and the Mississippi River.
“It’s so nice to be back and to have my first solo experience in Youngstown,” she said.
“I suppose she came up because she was the president’s daughter,” said Claudia Berlinski.
Berlinski is the museum’s coordinator. She says that even though Whitney is Jim’s daughter, it was the quality of her work that finalized the exhibit.
“She knows what she’s doing and she has a voice of her own. Then we learned about the whole camper thing and we’re like, ‘Oh God, she has to,'” Berlinski said.
After living in New York City, Whitney wanted something different. So, she bought a 1985 Toyota Dolphin and for the past two years has been driving across the country by herself, taking pictures.
“I travel so much for work I thought, ‘Why not be permanently on the road?’ and then I had more time to do some more meaningful work,” Whitney said.
“The camper was a surprise,” said Whitney’s mother, Carol Zabel.
Zabel may have been surprised by the camper, but not the trip.
“Whitney’s a very strong, independent, resourceful young woman,” Zabel said.
Her father couldn’t make it to Friday’s event.
“He’s coming on Monday to my artist talk,” Whitney said.
When he was told of the camper expedition, Whitney said he eventually got on board with the idea.
“I think he was a little surprised, but then he respected my choice,” Whitney said.
Whitney’s lecture on Monday will start at 5 p.m. at the McDonough Museum of Art. Her exhibit will be up through Oct. 26.