While The Church in Sag Harbor is a ways away from opening, Dr. Sara Cochran has been named the inaugural Executive Director and Chief Curator.
Founded by local artists and philanthropists Eric Fischl and April Gornik, The Church will offer artist residencies, exhibition space, and serve as a creativity center. Its mission is to “foster creativity on the East End to honor the living history of Sag Harbor as a ‘maker’ Village” by “championing new and traditional technologies through collaboration, education and outreach.”
“Sara is an exceptional and professional curator and director who has had a transformative, enriching effect on all the institutions she’s led” Fischl relayed, “and we are tremendously lucky to have her join us in Sag Harbor.”
“In her curatorial practice, she has also brought communities whose voices had not been heard to the fore. She is much more than a maker of exhibitions and understands our intent for The Church,” Gornik added.
Dr. Cochran, who previously served as Director and Chief Curator at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, most recently partnered with artist Gregory Sale on his year-long project, Future IDs on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. While at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, she curated eight exhibitions, including notable projects with Betye Saar (2016) and Postcommodity (2015). Dr. Cochran was also responsible for varied programming, such as discussions with Founding Guerrilla Girl Kathe Kollwitz, Robert Irwin, Tom Sachs, Henry Rollins, Megan Rapinoe, and Dan Savage, national film premiers, stand-up comedy, a book club, maker events, an escape room and more. During her tenure as Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Phoenix Art Museum, Dr. Cochran planned fifteen exhibitions, including debuting and traveling Kehinde Wiley’s Memling Series in 2013. She also held curatorial positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum earlier in her career.
Dr. Cochran earned her Ph.D. in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and has a Masters from Université de la Sorbonne, Paris IV.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to work with Eric, April and the Board to shape this ambitious organization at the crucial time of its founding,” Dr. Cochran said. “Since its beginning in the 18th century, Sag Harbor has had a unique global focus. It has had an extraordinary tradition of creativity and innovation, from whaling to watch making, as well as in the visual arts, writing and music. I look forward to defining The Church’s programs and building partnerships in the area and across the nation as we work to create a space for artists and community in this rich historic place and cultural environment.”
Housed in a deconsecrated Methodist Church built in 1835 that is being updated by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership, once fully renovated the space will offer a myriad of events, including presentations, partnerships with other cultural institutions, educational programs, artists in residencies, outreach events, and more.
“While we have made significant progress in defining the form of our outdoor space through the creation of our side yard garden and gathering area’s grading and stone retaining walls, most of our progress has been hidden from view,” Lee H. Skolnick of Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership said about the renovation process on The Church’s website. “The many elements of infrastructure – sprinklers, power, ductwork, etc. – have been carefully threaded through the site and building to preserve its architectural and natural integrity. In fact, these many interventions have been proceeding at warp speed and we are thrilled by the cooperative and collaborative spirit and performance of our contractor, Moises Cerdas, and his skilled and dedicated subcontractors.”
In addition to The Church, The Prime House, a Colonial-era home located in the heart of Sag Harbor, will offer a space for artists-in-residence that can accommodate up to five writers at time.
For more information, visit www.sagharborchurch.org.