934 Gallery hosts group exhibition loosely built around a theme

Sarah Achor and Kathryn Seyerle are hanging and installing work for the group show they've curated at 934 Gallery in Milo-Grogan. The show opens the next day, and their work is already being interrupted by this writer and a photographer. Then two young women walking past the gallery begin waving at them through the large front windows facing Cleveland Avenue. Achor directs them to the side door, where she meets the pair, who just happened upon the gallery and wanted to inquire about the space.

Gallery volunteer = curator, preparator, media and community relations.

Achor and Seyerle wouldn't have it any other way. This is the second show they've curated together at 934 (last December's “Mouse” show of small works was the first). Both were Milo Arts residents when they started volunteering at the gallery, fostering an artistic friendship that informs their curation.

“We were just tossing around ideas [for an exhibition theme], and I said, ‘I've been thinking about “underwater,”' and she said ‘yes,'” Achor said. “It was really that simple. Even when we were going through the [submitted] work, most of the time we agreed.”

Seyerle described a process of laying out roughly 170 photos of artwork submitted for consideration in “Underwater,” on exhibit at the gallery through Dec. 14. (Most hours remaining are by appointment; the gallery will be open the evening of Saturday, Dec. 8, for a concert featuring Hello Luna, Punch Drunk Tagalongs and Fools Fire.) Of the 170 submissions, between 65 and 70 will be featured in the show, representing work by more than 50 artists.

“I like having the overall theme, that mild unifying factor, but we set no boundaries other than ‘underwater,' and what makes the show is how each artist interprets that,” Seyerle said.

“Some things, you look at it and it appears to have nothing to do with water at all, but it's more about a feeling. We left it completely open to interpretation and people just ran with it,” Achor said.

The exhibition will feature painting in a variety of mediums, assemblage and multimedia work, sculpture, installation and video. The variety in media, as well as in approach and point-of-view, is exactly what makes a group show interesting, both curators said.

“In any other show you might not see any two of these pieces next to each other or in the same space. … And not only pieces but artists who might not otherwise be shown together,” Achor said.

“Each piece has a voice. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these have a social or political perspective, but we weren't looking for that,” Seyerle said.

For her own work for “Underwater,” Seyerle infused some of her “mermaid-obsessed, angry feminist” viewpoint in a papier-mache severed mermaid tail. She added, though, that she ventured beyond her normal process in the use of different materials, including another work made from fake fur.

“I do like challenging the idea that art is always frame-canvas-wall, but I also took this opportunity to be challenged and to make something outside what I might normally do,” Seyerle said.

Achor works primarily in photography, and there are photographic images in her work for “Underwater,” but used in less traditional ways, including displayed underneath a tank of water, for example.

“This is way different than anything I've ever done,” Achor said.