The Church in Sag Harbor Welcomes

Sara Cochran as Executive Director and Chief Curator


Artists Eric Fischl and April Gornik, with the Board of Directors of the Edge and Center Foundation in Sag Harbor, announce the appointment of Dr. Sara Cochran as the inaugural Executive Director and Chief Curator of The Church 

Founded by Fischl and Gornik, The Church is housed in a deconsecrated Methodist Church built in 1835. It will be a unique environment, serving as an artist residency, exhibition space, and creativity center for the whole East End community, with a full schedule of presentations, collaborations with other cultural institutions, educational programs and outreach events. Honoring the history of Sag Harbor as a ‘maker’ village, The Church will help foster creativity and champion new and traditional technologies in contemporary art and craft, as well as recognizing other creative pursuits. The building is currently under renovation under the direction of Lee Skolnick of Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership, and is scheduled to open to the public in 2020. Cochran will lead the institution and work with Fischl, Gornik and the Board to open it, expand its board, build staff, establish strong relations with the community, and plan for its future growth.

Cochran worked most recently 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, increased its earned revenue and vastly expanded its presence on social media. During her tenure there, she curated eight exhibitions, including major projects 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 many others, as well as running innovative events such as national film premiers, stand-up comedy, 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 fifteen exhibitions including premiering and traveling Kehinde Wiley’s Memling Series in 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.


“Sara is an exceptional and professional curator and director who has had a transformative, enriching effect on all the institutions she’s led” said Eric Fischl, “and we are tremendously lucky to have her join us in Sag Harbor.” 


April Gornik added, “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.”


“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,” 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.”


Cochran started in her position January 1, 2020.

Sara Cochran photo ©SeanDeckert, 2020

For more information, contact INFO@SAGHARBORCHURCH.ORG




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