paper paper consists of wall pieces and a site-specific installation made from an archive of New York Times newspapers Rooney collected in the year immediately following the 2016 presidential election. Using the newspapers as raw material, she tore, cut and pulpified the pages, and then reconstituted this matter into new paper form using wheat paste, pigmented adhesives and stitching. The wall works are made from a single day’s worth of newspaper, compressed into a new, frame-like form with no material at its center. Meanwhile, from the gallery’s skylights, Rooney suspends dozens of paper strands, each one composed from many days’-worth of pages that have been pulpified into small sheets and woven together. These suspended works mediate the viewers’ passage through the gallery, disrupting their view of the walls, and slowing down their movement. 

paper paper

Curated by Storm Ascher
March 16 - April 27, 2019

Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

"The works resulting from these labor-intensive processes refuse the binaries of true/false, real/fake, fact/fiction. Rather, they offer the viewer a way to revisit and reimagine the content contained within this year’s-worth of news (2016-2017)."

Installed at the Matthewis Persen House Museum in Kingston, NY, these works use written text as material for constructing three-dimensional forms that interrupt the house's built architecture. Formails, are free-standing ritual screens made from near-daily postcard correspondence between Julia Rooney and her sister, poet Anne Marie Rooney. The screens can be rearranged according to the space they are in and are translucent, allowing light to pass through them. Morningarb is made from pages of the artist's morning journals, which she has been keeping since 2013. The pages—cut up and then “quilted together”—are not legible as prose, and yet are still recognizable as writing.

The House

Curated by Jessica Gaddis

July 27 - August 15, 2019

Matthewis Persen House Museum

Kingston, NY

"Making and arranging these structures in various spaces, Rooney proposes a way of fluidly intervening within a given architecture: an alternative way of navigating its contours, negotiating one’s behavior in it, and establishing a personal/private space within an otherwise communal/public one."

Reading Painting

Curated by Seth Becker and Maya Strauss

January 19 - January 26, 2019

Treasure Town, Brooklyn, NY

"Exhibited as part of Reading Painting, this textile offers itself as a thing both painted and read. Playfully titled Wordress, it suggests a garment or accessory which has been 'branded' repeatedly with legible letters that are nonetheless undecipherable as words." 

In both the screen and the wall paintings, Rooney uses plaster as a primer—creating a highly absorbent, matte surface—and uses house paint to cover that surface—creating a waxy, pastel quality. In the case of the screen, Rooney embeds the tiles with translucent Depression glass inherited from her grandmother to counter the opacity of the plaster. She chose these materials for their associations with home—construction materials used to physically build a space, and domestic materials/processes used when inhabiting it. Aloof in the space is a hollow, freestanding yet soft form, which acts as the sole inhabitant in the otherwise spare space.

Wild Seed

February 2 - February 11, 2018

Green Gallery. New Haven, CT

"Portalscreen is a double-sided painting that embodies what Rooney calls, 'improvisational architecture': structures that may be temporarily installed within a space to change how one moves and behaves within it. As installed here— centrally within the gallery—Portalscreen serves as a dividing structure, demarcating a room within a room. As such, the painted screen may be looked at or looked through, experienced frontally or from both sides as one walks around it. Within this double interior, the smaller paintings directly reference the screen's cut out shapes and materiality."

The word "Doubles" refers to both the works’ mode of production, and their finished visual form, which ranges from diptychs to compositions with repeating imagery. Warped stretcher bars, skateboard decks, architectural detritus, and furniture provide non-rectilinear frames and support structures which Rooney refers to, and sometimes directly copies, while painting their surfaces. As such, the imagery painted within and on top of these frames often references the shape of the frames themselves. 


September 13 - October 1, 2017

Chashama: Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn, NY

"Using a range of materials sourced from the home—drywall, retired clothing, house paint, linens, and roofing felt—Rooney creates painted objects that reclaim and estrange our understanding of domestic spaces, from the intimate to the political. A series of large-scale installations, including window shades, freestanding screens, and temporary walls, invites us to consider the boundaries against which our bodies define themselves."

Trimflocks are quilted textiles made from fabric remnants the artist collected between 2015-18. The remnants, and the stains on them, are records of specific events or activities that took place in various working, social and domestic spaces. They include napkins stained during community dinners she organized; fabric scraps used as part of her marriage ceremony; paint rags from the studio; and painted marks that reference other works of hers.

Way Out Now

Curated by Asa Hursh

June 16 - July 21, 2018

Diane Rosenstein Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

"As quilted-together fragments, the textiles propose a way to materially capture movement and activity between and within various working, social and domestic spaces—constantly in flux and overlapping. ​"


June 3 - July 1, 2021

Real Eyes Gallery

Adams, MA

More than works on paper, these are works of paper—made entirely from an archive of New York Times newspapers which Rooney collected between Nov. 2016 and Nov. 2017. The pages are pulpified and molded into stiff blocks; pigmented and collaged into colorful wall works; and quilted into curtain-like structures which are suspended from the ceiling and create enclaves within the larger room. In all these strategies, Rooney transforms the newspapers from text-heavy documents into visual/sculptural objects with only fragments of text peeking through. With the prose scrambled or obliterated, we are left to contend with the paper itself, a material increasingly at odds with digital modes of news media production and consumption.

As a title, Sections riffs off the organizational structure of a newspaper—a structure which is palpably felt in print editions where each section is folded separately and sandwiched into the others. This concept plays out spatially across the gallery, as the walls, floor and ceiling each become uniquely activated by the work installed on them. Across the width of the gallery, Rooney suspends two sets of paper-screens made from newsprint that has been pulpified and molded into new sheets. The screens are nimble structures which fold up and may be rearranged according to the space. Installed here, they create various interior sections within the larger environment, ones which visitors may peer between as they choose where to situate themselves. As such, there is a constant play between inside/outside, front/back, opaque/permeable. A floor-piece snakes around the two sets of screens. Individually-cast paper blocks are arranged to roughly mirror the screens’ geometries, and to trace the floor’s own tile-work. The blocks themselves range in size and shape, but all bear a relation to digital devices and their respective parts: phones, tablets, screens, pixels. Modular and endlessly rearrangeable, each block feels like it has multiple versions of itself.


During a period when the dichotomy of “true/false” has permeated the field of journalism and media at large, these paper works do not subscribe to either classification. Perhaps their “truest” quality is their materiality as paper. And while this fact may seem obvious, Rooney achieves a range of texture, scale, tone and mass which pushes this material fact into an imaginative and transformative space.  

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January 16 - February 21, 2021

Arts +Leisure Gallery

New York, NY

"Our generation knew a world without Instagram, and now we know a world with it. It’s become so omnipresent in the art world that even 'abstaining' is a form of engaging. @SomeHighTide emerged from this dilemma. At this point as artists, I don't believe we can ignore Instagram's impact on making and seeing, but that does not mean we have to play by its rules. I think we can and must make a choice as to how we want to engage with it."

Comprising a series of two by two-inch paintings, Julia Rooney’s exhibition @SomeHighTide queries our intimate relationships with our smartphones and their attendant social networks, with particular regard to the ways such platforms shape our habits of visual consumption and comprehension. By adopting the harsh dimensional constraints of Instagram and similar photo-sharing applications, Rooney acknowledges the ubiquity of the smartphone screen, while her decidedly traditional mediums of oil paint and linen disturbs their veneer of manufactured precision and homogeneity. As hand-wrought effigies of the Instagram photo-square, Rooney’s paintings call attention to the inherent incongruities in superimposing a digital framework over the organic experiences of life and expression.  

- Samir Nedzamar.

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