JACKSON TWP.  The Jackson School for the Arts (JSA) Meraki Gallery is hosting an exhibit of photographs by internationally published photographer Josh Fitzgerald. The exhibit is named "Abandoned: Photography by Joshua Fitzgerald." It includes photographs of abandoned buildings such as schools, medical facilities and churches.

The exhibit opened with a reception on Sept. 26 and is open through Nov. 3. Visual arts teacher Lisa Ayres Surber and her advanced placement (AP) and accelerated students added to the exhibit by looking at the photos and then adding their own creative writing pieces about the way the photos made them feel.

“Students wrote short fictional stories, essays or poems about each photo, we then framed the writings and made them part of the exhibit,” Ayres Surber said. “A student from the film club also created a short film where he showed each photo and then narrated it by reading the writing next to the photo.”

While this was his first time at the Meraki Gallery, Fitzgerald said he has exhibited all over the country and locally including at the Box Gallery, Summit Art Space and Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

“This exhibit includes photographs from abandoned theatres, hospitals, churches and schools,” Fitzgerald said. “I try to create art that arouses emotion in the viewer. When I read what the students wrote about the photographs, it gave me confirmation that my photos are working. The photos stirred emotions in the students that stirred emotions in me, it’s a form of collaborative art.

“This was a great collaborative project. That’s what art should be, stirring emotions and making one question him or herself. It’s an honor to know that I did something that meant something to someone else.”

The Meraki Gallery, which is located off the commons area and across from the Jackson Center for the Performing Arts, opened on Sept. 21, 2017. 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 gallery is managed by the students who do all of the administrative and artistic roles including directors, curators, installers and marketing.

The community is invited to the visit the gallery for this exhibit and throughout the year during school hours by calling or emailing Ayres Surber at 330-837-3501, ext. 1015, or email lsa2jc@bearworks.jackson.sparcc.org to schedule a visit. For more information about the exhibits, visit themerakigallery.org.