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Nari Ward
The New Yorker

In his new show, titled “Till, Lit,” the Jamaican-born, Harlem-based artist presents formally striking and politically charged sculptures made from surprising materials. The “till” of the title evokes both field labor and the reserves of a cash register. Compartments from the latter figure in a number of works here, as do delicate paper rectangles that are made from the excised edges of dollar bills. These shapes overlap in abstract compositions, such as the austere “Royal Alpha” and the shimmering “Providence Spirits (Silver),” which also incorporates cowrie shells (once valued as money). The legacy of slavery and its barbaric transactions suffuses the works on view. The powerful installation “Lit” uses buzzing floodlights and a concrete-submerged ladder to conflate antebellum slave patrolling with present-day police surveillance. The mixed-media work “Hanging Study” proposes a form of redress—it spells out the word “reparations.”