Press Release

July 25, 2023

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Passey | [email protected] | 480-874-4626

Works from SMoCA collection highlight relationship between humans and the environment

Gohar Dashti, “Untitled #1 from the series Land/s,” 2019. Archival inkjet print, 42 x 56 inches. Collection of Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, gift of the artist.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) will highlight artworks primarily from its collection in a new exhibition called “Earth and Sky,” opening Sept. 23, 2023.

The artworks featured in “Earth and Sky” touch on how humans inhabit, construct or perceive various natural, artificial or ethereal environments. Through painting, photography, print, sculpture and video, this selection offers artistic impressions of natural phenomena, scientific anomalies, environmental influences on human behavior and notions of belonging.

Lauren R. O’Connell, curator of contemporary art at SMoCA, noted that more than half of the artworks in “Earth and Sky” were donated to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Collection by the artists themselves. The artists often donated the works following their inclusion in previous SMoCA exhibitions.

“This exhibition is not only about the relationship of humans to their surrounding environments but also an example of how a symbiotic relationship between a museum and artists can lead to new experiences and discoveries for our audiences,” said O’Connell, who curated “Earth and Sky.” “Many of the artists have practices that address similar topics beyond what is covered in this exhibition. This is what makes showing contemporary art so interesting — there is never just one conversation at play.”

Carrie Tovar, the museum’s registrar and collections manager, said the SMoCA Collection comprises more than 2,000 works. Therefore, an exhibition like “Earth and Sky” enables museum staff to highlight the depth and breadth of the works in their care.

“Since we have an ambitious exhibition schedule, we may not be able to show works from the collection as often as we like,” Tovar said. “Museum visitors haven’t seen a number of the artworks in this show in several years, so it is thrilling to bring selections from the collection out of storage, have them interact with each other in new ways and share this exhibition with the public.”

“Earth and Sky” features artworks by national artists Miya Ando, Charles Gaines, Nellie King Solomon, Mark Klett, Michael Namingha, Aaron Rothman and James Turrell. Also included are works by international artists Felipe Cohen (Brazil), Gohar Dashti (Iran), Pedro Meyer (Spain/Mexico), Rotraut (Germany/France) and Masao Yamamoto (Japan).

Many of the artists have earned prestigious awards and recognitions, including Rothman, who recently became a Guggenheim Fellow in photography.

“The caliber of artists is astounding,” O’Connell said.

SMoCA — named “Best Museum” by the Phoenix New Times in the 2022 Best of Phoenix awards — is located at 7374 E. Second St., Scottsdale, Arizona 85251. It is open Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit for information.

Admission is $10–$12 for non-members; $7–$9 for students, seniors (65+) and veterans; and free for Scottsdale Arts ONE Members, healthcare workers, first responders, and patrons 18 and younger. Admission to the museum is pay-what-you-wish every Thursday and every second Saturday of the month. Timed-entry tickets are required. Save time and money by booking online at

“Earth and Sky” is organized by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and curated by Lauren R. O’Connell, curator of contemporary art.