CJ Harker’s photograph of Sasha the blacksmith.

Mercer County Community College (MCCC) has opened of the Gallery at the James Kerney Campus (JKC), located in the Trenton Hall Annex at 137 North Broad Street across from the James Kerney Building.

According to gallery director and MCCC photography and digital program coordinator Michael Chovan-Dalton, the new space will be dedicated primarily to photography and lens-based art.

The inaugural show —- “Trenton Blacksmiths” by Trenton-born photographer CJ Harker — went on view in February and will close with an artist talk and gallery reception on Wednesday, March 8, from 5 to 8 p.m.

In “Trenton Blacksmiths,” Harker focuses his lens on the nearly 200-year-old Trenton Blacksmith shop. “Many souls have called that building home in one sense or another. Countless stories can be traced through the many corners of the shop or found caught up in the dust and cobwebs,” says Harker.

The shop’s current master blacksmith is Alex “Sasha” Parubchenko, the last full-time blacksmith in New Jersey. “Sasha has kept an amazing piece of history living and breathing year after year since 1971. He is always ready with a warm greeting and a willingness to tell his own tales fueled by a full life. He eagerly passes his many years of knowledge and experience along to his students,” says Harker said, adding that his pupils are a diverse group of area residents of all ages, including a Trenton school teacher/bladesmith and a neighborhood youth who has been a journeyman blacksmith under Sasha since the age of 10.

An award winning and internationally published photographer, Harker uses a combination of digital and analog approaches, including the 19th-century tintypes. He studied photography and digital imaging at MCCC before transferring to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he earned his BFA in photography and is currently a teaching assistant and resident artist.