Ellen Rothenberg’s recent public projects and installations focus on global migration and the political and social response in destination countries; the intertwined histories of electoral activism and of voter suppression; and the possibilities for individual and collective action.

Her work is concerned with the politics of everyday life and the formation of communities through collaborative practices. Influenced by the civil rights, anti-war, and feminist movements; Rothenberg began locating her work outside conventional institutional venues, shifting her performances and sculpture to the street, city parks, subway platforms and other public spaces, broadening the audience for her work.

Partnering with historians, forensic scientists, archivists, and activists, her research repurposes the archive through presence and emplacement, inhabiting architecture and sites of daily life. From performance, to installations and collaborative projects, Rothenberg probes formal boundaries for what they can produce, designing responsive structures that encourage participation. This strategy continues to drive her work, and can be seen as an esthetic, political, and social force. Expanding this approach internationally Rothenberg produced a hybrid pedagogy in her teaching as well. Working with established communities, and forming new ones has become an essential part of her working process.

Rothenberg’s work has been presented at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Museum of Fine Arts and Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The Museum of London, Ontario; The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; The Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen; Royal Festival Hall, London; The Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania; among others. Awards include NEA Fellowships, The Bunting Institute Fellowship, Radcliffe College Harvard University, Illinois Arts Council Fellowships, The Massachusetts Artist Foundation Fellowships, and grants from CEC Artslink, The Charles Engelhard Foundation, The LEF Foundation, and NEA Artists Projects. She has worked in collaboration with the Chicago Torture Justice Memorial Project, Future Force Geo Speculators, and Chelen Amenca, Romania. Rothenberg was a Visiting Fellow at  re:work, International Research Center at Humboldt University in Berlin during 2019-2022, and Faculty Research Fellow at SAIC’s Institute for Curatorial Research and Practice from 2017-2019. Rothenberg and Daniel Eisenberg curated and organized RE:WORKING LABOR, an international symposium and exhibition, on contemporary representations of labor and the future of work.