Brooklyn simply hasn’t been the same without Deborah Kass’ bold, signature OY/YO sculpture. Luckily, it’s back in a new location at the Williamsburg Waterfront, which first appeared in Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2015. On July 13th, it was unveiled by NYC Parks and Douglaston Development LLC at the esplanade of the North 5th Street Pier and Park. Many were eager to celebrate its return, with Kass herself attending the ceremony. The sculpture will be open to the public in its new home until July 2018.
The sculpture’s new location is on an esplanade built by Douglaston Development in collaboration with the New York City Department of City Planning and NYC Parks. The sculpture is visible from some Manhattan skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building. When facing Brooklyn, it reads “YO,” reflecting urban, Brooklyn slang and the Spanish word for “I am.” When facing Manhattan, it shows just the opposite word, “OY,” the famous Yiddish expression.
Indeed, many people, including NYC Parks Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Martin Maher, were glad to see the return of the iconic statue. In a press release, Maher said that statue symbolizes “the epitome of Brooklyn culture – a diverse synthesis of people – and its vibrant hue will put a smile on the faces of all who see it.” He’s especially proud to see the public sculpture return during the 50th anniversary of the “Art in the Parks” public art program.
Photo courtesy of Douglaston Development
Kass was equally thrilled to see her sculpture go up once again: “I am very grateful to have this iconic sculpture moved to the North Brooklyn waterfront,” she said in a press release. “It is a true representation of the different cultures found within the borough. Having my sculpture find a home in the art rich area of Williamsburg will ensure its continued popularity.”
The OY/YO sculpture recaptures iconic 20th century styles, with its own touch of women’s empowerment. It was originally created as a painting by Kass, a Brooklyn-based artist, as her response to Edward Ruscha’s 1962 painting OOF.
OY/YO first appeared in 2011 in the form of paintings, small sculptures, and prints, but in 2015, it took on the form of an 8 x 17 x 5 foot, bright yellow, aluminum sculpture. Commissioned by The Two Trees Management Company (the DUMBO-based real estate developer who is also building the Domino sugar site in Williamsburg), it was originally installed at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Main Street lawn in December 2015, where it remained until September 2016.
It was a milestone for both Brooklynites and Kass herself, as OY/YO was her first monumental sculpture. During this time, it attracted thousands of visitors and established itself as a famous spot for pictures, videos, and even the occasional wedding photo.
And now, the brilliant yellow sculpture has a new home in Williamsburg, still standing against some great city views, waiting for New Yorkers to once again visit, take pictures, and enjoy.