JACKSON TWP.  The students from the Jackson School for the Arts (JSA) were talking one afternoon with art teacher Lisa Ayres Surber about how to get more artworks displayed in the high school. Ayres Surber said the possibility of opening a student run art gallery in the high school quickly came up in the conversation.

The idea will soon become a reality with the opening of The Meraki Gallery on Sept. 21. Students selected the Greek word as the name because it references the soul, creativity and love that gets put into something such as great artworks.

"The students in the JSA brainstormed and came up with the name because it’s about putting yourself into your work and that’s what most artists do," said Ayres Surber, who is also the faculty advisor for the gallery. "The name resonated with them for another reason. It represents the work they’ve put into developing the gallery and leaving their mark on Jackson High School."

The gallery will open with an exhibit of artworks by former JSA students. Ayres Surber said the students are working on an exhibit schedule for the next year that will include exhibits of their work, works from the middle school students and works from local professional artists.

The Meraki Gallery will become a permanent part of the high school. It’s located off the Commons area and across from the Jackson Center for the Performing Arts. The gallery will have co-directors and co-curators. This year’s teams include student directors Madyson Bostic and Avery Freels, both juniors; and student curators Avery Freels and Mary Visco, both juniors.

The gallery will continue to be managed by the students. Students will assume all the administrative and artistic roles including directors, curators, installers and marketing.

Committees will be formed every year that any JSA student can join. Committee members will manage all aspects of the gallery such as marketing and promotion, inviting the artists to exhibit, building the exhibits, painting and all and upkeep tasks involved with the gallery.

"Future students will apply for the curator and director positions. Both positions will count as the student’s required internships for the program. Funding for the start-up year is from the JSA funds. In the future, the gallery will be funded through donations," Ayres Surber said. "The Meraki Gallery will benefit students in the JSA program in a number of ways. It will provide a place for students to exhibit their works. It also will provide them experience on the professional side of managing an art gallery and exhibiting their work to the public," Ayres Surber said.

The community is invited to the gallery grand opening. They can also visit the gallery during school hours by calling or emailing Lisa Ayres Surber at 330-837-3501, ext. 1015 or lsa2jc@bearworks.jackson.sparcc.org to schedule a visit. Students are available between 10:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. during the school day to give small group tours.