Published by Roberta Smith for The New York Times
The objects in Cameron Rowland’s remarkable show at Artists Space offer a history lesson and an aesthetic experience, intricately fused. Accompanied by terse explanatory captions, they expose some of the troubling inequities in American society, especially concerning its prisons and their use of compulsory inmate labor. The process of grasping the meaning of this work equally involves looking, reading and feeling but its subject is one of the most urgent of our time.
Mr. Rowland, who was born in Philadelphia in 1988 and earned a B.A. in studio art from Wesleyan University, has been exhibiting for less than five years but has become known for his carefully chosen, sometimes arcane use of existing objects. “Bait, Inc.,” his 2014 solo show at Essex Street Gallery on the Lower East Side, included scavenged materials like copper and car parts that can generate underground economies. An underlying theme was the way investors and government profit from the new workfare programs begun in 1996.