THE CHURCH ANNOUNCES CHANGES IN ITS STRUCTURE:
THE APPOINTMENT OF SHERI L. PASQUARELLA AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
AND CONTINUATION OF SARA COCHRAN, Ph.D. AS CHIEF CURATOR
Sag Harbor, NY – Given the unprecedented growth of The Church over its first year, the roles of Executive Director and Chief Curator have been split. The Board of The Church, along with founders April Gornik and Eric Fischl, are pleased to announce the appointment of Sheri L. Pasquarella as Executive Director, effective August 1, 2022 and the continuation of Sara Cochran, Ph.D. in the role of Chief Curator.
Sheri has spent the last two-plus decades working in New York as a part of the global art industry. Her work included roles as gallery director, not-for-profit founder, educator, art advisor, and consultant. She is originally from the East End of Long Island, and her first-ever job was at Guild Hall in 1996.
The hire marks an exciting next step for the young organization. In 2018 artists Eric Fischl and April Gornik began renovating a deconsecrated 19th century former Methodist church in the heart of the village, with the mission of fostering creativity on the East End and honoring the living history of Sag Harbor as a maker village. The Church opened its doors in Spring 2021 under the leadership of Sara Cochran who had served as Executive Director and Chief Curator since January 2020, braving the challenges of opening the building and launching during the pandemic, an artistic program that included 5 exhibitions, 69 events, and 34 artists in residence for an audience of 14,683 individuals. Now into its second year, The Church is expanding in order to better serve the needs of artists and the community. Its ambitious year-round offerings include visual arts exhibitions, dance, performance, lectures, book talks, and an artist residency programming that provides housing and studio space to makers across all artistic practices. Deputy Director Cecilia Weaver has played a pivotal role in the restructuring and hiring process since coming on in September 2021; she will continue on in a consulting capacity.
“Returning to the East End of Long Island is a thrill and profound honor. I am excited to join the excellent team at The Church. I intend to foster Eric and April’s founding vision, while being a part of a generation of smaller organizations around the world that are cultivating art in community centered on engagement, resource-sharing, and inclusion.”
“It has been a privilege to work with Eric, April and the Board to lay the groundwork for The Church and open the institution.” Sara continued: “I am delighted to see us reach a point where the staff is naturally expanding and am excited to focus on exhibitions, working with Eric and artists in our community as well as those across the country and around the world. I look forward to working with Sheri; we have big plans.”
Eric Fischl added, “We are thrilled that Sheri will be joining and leading the team. Besides her background in various levels of arts administration, having grown up in the area, she has a deep sensitivity to the character and nature of these historically significant East End communities. She is a bright light of graciousness, intelligence and ease of accessibility that makes her a perfect fit for The Church.”
For the past 17 years, Sheri owned and led SLP, a Manhattan-based consultancy that provided services across the international arts ecosystem, including an art advisory and business and strategic advisement to artists, galleries, not-for-profits, museums, and design businesses. SLP will close in September 2022. Pasquarella is known for community-building initiatives that include the New Art Dealers Alliance, which she conceived and co-founded in 2002, and the SLP Women’s Group, a national network of female arts leaders and workers that provided mutual support and resources for navigating the pandemic. In 2021, along with the Black Women in Visual Arts, she co-founded The Convening, an annual conference for female arts professionals that was presented in collaboration with ArtTable. In her earlier career, she was a director at Marlborough and Gorney Bravin + Lee galleries and was Adjunct Faculty in the Art Market M.A. program at SUNY FIT. She will continue on as a Board member of Participant, Inc. She is originally from the East End of Long Island, and her first ever job was at Guild Hall in 1996.
Cochran has been with The Church since January 2020, opening the institution in the spring of 2021 and co-curating 3 major exhibitions with Eric Fischl: Road Rage, Empire of Water and Threading the Needle. Prior to this, she worked with artist Gregory Sale on his year-long project Future IDs on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. She was previously Director and Chief Curator at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, where she doubled the museum’s annual attendance and curated eight exhibitions, including major shows with Betye Saar (2016) and Postcommodity (2015). She also organized a diverse series of programs including discussions with Founding Guerrilla Girl Kathe Kollwitz, Robert Irwin, Tom Sachs, Henry Rollins, Megan Rapinoe, and Dan Savage among others, as well as running innovative events such as national film premiers, stand-up comedy shows, a book club, maker events, an escape room and collaboration with the City of Scottsdale to celebrate diversity. As Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Phoenix Art Museum, Cochran organized 15 exhibitions including premiering and traveling Kehinde Wiley’s Memling Series (2013). Under her leadership, the museum acquired over 200 works of art by artists such as Dan Graham, Sui Jianguo, Glenn Ligon, Maya Lin, Ruben Ochoa, Jennifer Steinkamp, Lawrence Weiner and Kehinde Wiley. Earlier in her career, she held curatorial positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She 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. In 2015, she was participated in the Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University.
The mission of The Church is to foster creativity among the diverse communities on the East End and honor the living history of Sag Harbor as a maker village. It functions as a creativity center, exhibition space and residency. Housed in a deconsecrated 19th Century Methodist church, The Church aspires to be a place where local and national artists and creatives can work, meet, and inspire each other. Founded by artists Eric Fischl and April Gornik, The Church began operation in 2021. Championing new and traditional technologies through collaboration, education, and outreach, we strive to be an asset for the community in all its richness and heterogeneity.
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Photo by Sangwoo Suh
AAQ / Resource