‘Oy’ to the world! New sculpture speaks from Brooklyn Bridge Park

Lady of letters: Artist Deborah Kass stands in front of her vibrant new sculpture in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Etienne Frossard

Yo, Brooklyn, whassup?

A vibrant new sculpture in Brooklyn Bridge Park is making a statement — or two — with just two letters. The artist behind the “OY/YO” sculpture says that Brooklyn’s front yard is the perfect spot for the aluminum letters.

“When I saw it I knew right away it was made for New York,” said Deborah Kass, who moved to Bushwick from Manhattan in 2002.

Positioned near the water in Main Street Park near the Manhattan Bridge, the fluorescent yellow sculpture reads a disappointed “Oy” to drivers leaving Kings County for the isle across the water, and it shouts a saucy “Yo” to those returning to the borough.

It stands eight feet tall and 17 feet wide, and took nearly six weeks to create.

The two-letter sculpture is a jumbo, three-dimensional re-imagining of Kass’s 2011 painting “OY,” of those two letters, which in turn was inspired by Edward Ruscha’s 1962 painting “OOF.” After a friend pointed out it was a semordnilap — a word that spells a different word when read in reverse — she added a series of paintings and prints that read “YO.”

The word is a common way to get someone’s attention, the title of popular 1990s hip-hop show “Yo! MTV Raps,” as well as the Spanish term for “I am.” The sculpture also embodies the Yiddish cry for annoyance or dismay, as in “oy, vey.”

Kass says that the duo-facted artwork speaks to the diversity of languages heard around the city.

“I’m sure it addresses a lot of communities that live in New York,” she said.

The sculpture is slated to sit on the lawn until August, and Kass says she plans to enjoy every minute of it.

“I kind of can’t get over it,” she said, “It looks so perfect there.”

“OY/YO” in Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Main Street Park [enter at Main Street and Plymouth Street in Dumbo]. Until Aug. 2016. Free.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511.

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