Profile for Sierra Rooney

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Sierra Rooney

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Associate Professor
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

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Specialty area(s)

Art History

  • Art of the United States
  • Public Art, Monuments and Memorials
  • Museum Studies
  • Gender Studies

Brief biography

I am a teacher and scholar of Art of the United States, commemorative practices and museum studies. As an art historian, I am dedicated to activating art history to foster civic and historical engagement and social dialogue.

My scholarship, whether academic or public, is guided by the question of how public monuments and museum collections can be used to interrogate the intersections of art, place, history, identity, and power, looking to critical role that sculptural materiality and its symbolic value play in social conceptions of gender and race.

My in-progress work, Monumental Women: Statues to Women and the Heroic Ideal in the United States is digital humanities project that conceptualizes, historicizes, and visualizes public monuments dedicated to historic women in the United States through an open access catalog, interactive map, and accompanying book.

Current courses at UWL

ART 102: Art Appreciation

ART 251: Survey of Art History

ART 331: Art and the Environment in the U.S.


Ph.D., Stony Brook University

M.A., The City College of NewYork 

B.A., Emerson College 


Research and publishing


Teachable Monuments: Using Public Art to Spark Dialogue and Confront Controversies, co-edited with Jennifer Wingate and Harriet F. Senie (Bloomsbury Publishing,  2021).

Journal Articles (peer reviewed)

"Commemorations of an Epoch: Monuments to the Women's Suffrage Movement in the United States," Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art (Fall 2021).

"The Politics of Commemorating the Woman Suffrage Movement in New York City: On Women's Rights Pioneer Monument," Journal of Urban History (August 2020).

The Glendale Comfort Women Memorial and the Complications of Transnational Commemorations.” De Arte 53, no. 2 (Fall 2018).

 “It’s Not About a Statue: Fred Wilson’s E Pluribus Unum.” Public Art Dialogue 4, no. 2 (2014).

Anthology Essays & Other Publications

Guest Editor, special issue "Public Art and Gender," Public Art Dialogue 11, no 1 (Spring 2021).

“Sakakawea’s Long Trek to the United States Capitol: Representation and Diversity in the National Statuary Hall,” Capitol Dome (Fall 2019).

 “Your City is the Source: A Conversation About ICA/Vita Brevis.” In Museums and Public Art? Cher Krause Knight and Harriet Senie, eds. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018.

 “Vita Brevis: A Public Art Initiative at Boston’ Institute of Contemporary Art.” In Artists Reclaim the Commons: New Works/ New Territories / New Publics. Glenn Harper and Twlene Moyer, eds. ISC Press, 2013.



Ariel Beaujot, History; Nese Nasif, Marketing; and Kathleen Hawkes, Lisa Lenarz, Marc Manke and Sierra Rooney, all Visual & Performing Arts; received the award for Preservation Alliance of La Crosse Heritage Award at Preservation Alliance of La Crosse Banquet on Wednesday, Sept. 6 in La Crosse, WI, USA. Preservation Alliance of La Crosse has granted us the 2023 Heritage Award for contribution to Historic Preservation via the Hear, Here Project.

Submitted on: Aug. 28



Sierra Rooney, Art, was interviewed by Kate Archer Kent of Wisconsin Public Radio on Thursday, March 16. The interview discussed women in public monuments, including the planned statue of Vell Phillips for the State Capitol.

Submitted on: Mar. 16



Sierra Rooney, Art, authored the article "Commemoration of an Epoch: Monuments to the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the United States" in Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art published on Wednesday, Nov. 17 by University of Minnesota . The article is part of “Toward a More Inclusive Digital Art History,” an initiative funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art that aims to increase access to data-driven methods in American art studies. Focusing on public monuments to women’s suffrage, "Commemorations of an Epoch" offers a picture of the national commemoration of women in the public landscape through interactive features, including ArcGIS maps and full data set.

Submitted on: Nov. 17, 2021



Sierra Rooney, Art; Megan Litster, Biology; Katherine Lavelle, Communication Studies; Sarah Pember, Health Education & Health Promotion; and Jennifer Kosiak, Mathematics & Statistics; presented "Where Do We Go From Here?" at OPID Spring Conference on Teaching on Friday, April 16 online. Invited to be featured roundtable presentation.

Submitted on: April 16, 2021



Sierra Rooney, Art, co-authored the book "Teachable Monuments Using Public Art to Spark Dialogue and Confront Controversy" published on Thursday, March 11 by Bloomsbury. Monuments around the world have become the focus of sustained discussions, activism, vandalism, and removal. Teachable Monuments offers guidelines and case studies to demonstrate how monuments can be used to deepen civic and historical engagement and social dialogue.

Submitted on: Mar. 11, 2021