Press Release

September 8, 2021

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

Scottsdale Arts Exhibition Explores the Effects of Social Distancing Through Art

“Self-portrait: Distanced” by Roddy MacInnes is among the artworks included in the new exhibition “Socially Distanced” at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — “Socially Distanced,” a new exhibition from Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation and Arizona State University’s The Cooperation in the Apocalypse research team, will explore the effects of distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic through the visual arts.

The exhibition opens Sept. 24, 2021, in the Center Space gallery at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and runs through Jan. 9, 2022. It highlights the work of 17 artists from Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico whose works reflect empathy and compassion for others and reveal coping strategies.

“In this exhibition, you can see how connected our experiences have been while isolating,” said Laura Hales, curator of learning and innovation at Scottsdale Arts. “This work encompasses feelings of vulnerability, fear, hope and even humor that I think everyone can relate to.”

The Cooperation in the Apocalypse research team at ASU uses science and scholarship to understand human behavior in times of crisis. Its current research explores how views of cooperation and perceived interdependence have changed and what the long-term effects will be from this time of isolation.

Hales said artists in this exhibition have reflected some of the team’s findings in their work. A common thread running through the art is a deep concern for others and a desire to help themselves and others find hope. Pamela Winfrey, of the ASU research team, said the artworks express myriad ways people have been impacted and exhibits how they have created resilient strategies for psychological survival.

“I believe that the public will be able to see themselves within these artworks,” Winfrey said. “They are funny, aesthetic and poetic — all methods for dealing with unimaginable grief and shock. These artists give us a window into the various ways that we can move forward while paving new ways to think about this new world that we now must live in.”

Among those artists is Patricia Sannit, who has created safe opportunities for the arts to remain visible to the public throughout the pandemic. The Phoenix-based sculptor’s contribution to the exhibition is “Many Hands (hold me),” a ceramics installation that resulted from an artmaking event in her backyard. She invited participants over to create clay hands, and while working, they shared personal stories, connected and collaborated.

Sannit said she often thinks about the questions of whether art can heal, effect change and make the world a better place.

“I do believe that art has the potency to reanimate a sense of limitless potential, and potential brings hope,” Sannit said. “I am an optimist and a believer in our species’ better impulses. I hope that this exhibition will prove that all was not lost during this dark and stressful time. Historically, great art, innovation and creative breakthroughs have emerged from the darkest times in history. I hope that this will once again prove true.” An opening reception for the exhibition will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, at the gallery. Wine, sparkling water and light snacks will be served. Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is located at 7380 E. 2nd Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. For details, visit

Learn more about the exhibition at