Are You Joking? Women & Humor

Katherine Bernhardt, Shark Attack, 2022.
Acrylic and spray paint on canvas. 96 x 120 in.
Courtesy of the artist and Canada, New York. Photo by Joe DeNardo.



The exhibition will run from June 23 – September 1, 2024


Feel like a laugh? The Church’s summer 2024 exhibition considers humor and contemporary art, focusing solely on the work of female-identifying artists. Conceived and organized by Chief Curator Sara Cochran, it features the work of 40 artists across all media installed across The Church’s Main Floor and the Mezzanine.  

The goals are two-fold. The first is to counter the tired stereotypes and clichés about women not being funny or able to take a joke. The second is to illustrate the different forms and topics of humor in contemporary art from artistic jokes, political outrages, bodily functions and appearances, cultural stereotypes, and sex and death, to the absurd and surreal, puns and slapstick as well as poking fun at sacred cows of art and its institutions.

For example, Katherine Bernhardt’s colorful and playful 2022 canvas Shark Attack takes on the traditions of paintings. Ignoring illusion, perspective, or scale, her paintings flatten any sense of hierarchy or relationship between its elements. A smattering of absurdly raucous images emerge: sharks, half-smoked cigarettes, donuts, a lost Croc, and a sad face juxtaposed with a reclining Pink Panther.

This exhibition gathers works that are satirical, serious, sweet, self-deprecating, ironic, mocking, strange, surreal, angry, subversive, and even gross. It takes art off its pedestal and puts the viewer in a position to laugh or shake their head.


Cochran remarked: “Humor is deeply personal, and viewers will respond in individual ways to each of the works. It is exciting to hear all of these female voices in the exhibition. Humor is one of the best ways to speak truth to power and foster shared experiences”


Come and laugh along with us at the Church this summer. It will be a riot.  


Artists in the exhibition include Eleanor Antin, Katherine Bernhardt, Deborah Buck, Patty Chang, Pipi Deer, Pippa Garner, Carly Haffner, Louise Lawler, Judith Linhares, Tala Madani, Joyce Pensato, Wendy Red Star, Heji Shin, Denise Silva-Dennis, and Laurie Simmons among others. List in formation. Full list to be announced in advance of the exhibition.


The Church was established in 2019 by artists Eric Fischl and April Gornik. Housed in a deconsecrated 19th-century church, its doors were opened in April 2021. Our mission is to foster creativity and to honor the living history of Sag Harbor as a maker village. The East End represents an exceptional artistic legacy, spanning the practices of indigenous art of several centuries ago, Abstract Expressionists of the mid-20th Century, and the many celebrated writers, makers, musicians, and visual artists of the recent past and current moment. Core programming includes visual art exhibitions, concerts and events, educational programming, workshops, lectures, and an artist’s residency.


The Church   

48 Madison Street   

Sag Harbor, NY 11963



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