By Frances Clause
Stories told through colorful abstract paintings, photographs of diverse landscapes and professional printmaking were welcomed into the McDonough Museum of Art during the fall exhibition’s opening reception Aug. 23.
The exhibition is on view through Oct. 26, and visitors are invited to discover meaning in these contemporary exhibits by Whitney Tressel, Dana Oldfather and Julie Mehretu, three accomplished female artists.
Claudia Berlinski, McDonough Museum coordinator, said when choosing the exhibits for fall, a committee considered the quality of the work and how it would benefit the community and Youngstown State University students while staying affordable.
“[Julie Mehretu] is a painter, and her paintings are large scale, sometimes room size, and they’re quite expensive because of the caliber of artist that she is,” she said.
But through Highpoint Editions, the prints on display were much less expensive for the museum to release.
“It’s a way [for visitors] to see someone who’s such a world-renowned artist in an affordable scale,” Berlinski said.
The exhibitions continue into the lower levels of the museum, and each artist’s work contrasts the others.
“We did start our emerging artist series this semester, so in Raw Space Gallery we have our first emerging artist, who is Whitney Tressel, and she’s a travel photographer,” Berlinski said.
She said the unique thing about Tressel is that she is an artist who has not shown her work in a gallery setting as she has mainly focused on commercial work.
“[Tressel] had hundreds of images that were not images for her commercial work, and so we were able to pick some of those images from the travels in her camper, as well as some of her other travels,” Berlinski said.
There were many reasons Tressel decided to travel solo for two years across North America in her 1985 Toyota Dolphin camper.
“One [of the reasons] was that it’s my day job to be a photographer and photo editor, and it was nice to be able to do more meaningful work than the jobs I was commissioned,”Tressel said.
In the camper, Tressel enjoyed going at her own pace and revisiting places she had been, and she hopes that this exhibit captivates each visitor.
“When people look at my artwork, I hope that they are at peace; I hope when they look at the photograph that there’s a sense of curiosity and ease, contemplation, calmness,” she said.
Although Tressel is not in the camper full time anymore, she still pursues her passion with small road trips on the weekends.
Tressel’s art has been showcased on Google, National Geographic, Budget Travel magazine, New York Times Student Journeys and Esquire. It’s also affected YSU students who have stopped at the McDonough to admire the exhibition.
Torri Session, a digital media graduate at YSU, believes it’s important for students to attend exhibitions like this to learn about the artists around them.
“Even if they don’t like the certain types of art, they can learn why a person is making that art,” she said. “It’s really important just to see from different people’s perspectives and being able to talk to the artist.”