Sarah Cunningham has been named the new director of the Atkinson Gallery at Santa Barbara City College.
She replaces Dane Goodman, who retired in May after eight years of service.
Cunningham brings more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit arts and education sector to her position.
“I am thrilled to be joining SBCC’s Art Department as director of the Atkinson Gallery at this exciting moment of transition and relish the opportunity to both build on past successes and to imagine the future growth of the gallery program,” she said. “I believe that art is an essential part of society that gives voice, creates dialogue and exposes us to new ideas and that a curator acts as mediator between artist and audience and facilitates this vital discussion.”
From 2006 to 2011, Cunningham served as the director of the College of New Jersey Art Gallery. During her career, she has curated more than 30 contemporary art exhibitions, including “Inherited Traits: Nina Katchadourian & Heidi Kumao,” “Willie Cole: Solo Exhibition” and “Imag(in)ing the Book: The Work of Xu Bing.”
Previously Cunningham worked as the director of programs for the Worcester Center for Crafts and served as the neighborhood artist-in-residence for the Woonsocket Neighborhood Development Corporation, curator of exhibitions and public programs at the Alice Austen House Museum and executive director/curator of the Albany Center Galleries. She was also the founding director of the Empire State Partnerships Professional Development Program at the New York State Alliance for Arts Education.
Through her firm Salt Mound Arts Consulting, Cunningham has provided curating and nonprofit management services to clients including Rutherfurd Hall, Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, and the Nonprofit Finance Fund.
“We are indeed so fortunate to have Sarah join us,” said Dr. Alice Scharper, SBCC dean of educational programs. “She brings a wealth of experience with gallery administration, as well as community service in the arts. What strikes me most poignantly about Sarah is her insight and understanding into the nature of learning itself — its invitation to expand awareness and vision — and I feel that in her role as an artist and gallery director, Sarah will serve as a vital facilitator of important learning for our students and our community.”
The Atkinson Gallery opens Aug. 31 with a reception for the exhibit Art Faculty Biennial. The event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Atkinson’s new temporary quarters (WC301) near the SBCC Garvin Theatre on West Campus while the Humanities Building is being renovated. The exhibit, which will be on display through Sept. 28, highlights the diverse array of media and styles by SBCC’s art faculty, many of whom have their artwork displayed regionally and nationally.
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— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for SBCC.