Deborah Kass: "OY/YO" sculpture coming to Philadelphia

Mike D'Onofrio, Axios Philadelphia , April 21, 2022



Two big bright-yellow letters that read, "YO" — or "OY" depending on your perspective — will soon greet drivers and passersby near Independence Mall.


Driving the news: An edition of the massive "OY/YO" sculpture from Brooklyn artist Deborah Kass is landing outside the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History at Fifth and Market streets on April 29, as first reported by Streets Dept. 

Details: The sculpture can't be missed. It stands 8 feet tall, 16 feet wide and 5 feet deep. 


  • Besides the well-worn Philly welcome, "yo" also means "I" in Spanish, among other things, while "oy" is a Yiddish word that tends to express exasperation or dismay.


Flashback: The original sculpture first debuted in 2015 at the Brooklyn Bridge Park. 


  • One of the sculpture's editions now sits permanently outside the Brooklyn Museum.

What they're saying: Josh Perelman, the Weitzman Museum's chief curator and director of exhibitions and interpretation, said he expects the sculpture to bring a sense of whimsy and humor to the area.

  • "It somehow resonates wherever it goes, so I fully expect it will resonate with Philadelphia," Kass told Axios.
  • Kass also noted the sculpture is a magnet for Instagram photos. 


Of note: The Weitzman Museum remains closed due to the pandemic. 


What's ahead: The sculpture is on loan to the museum for a year, but Perelman hopes it could become a permanent fixture.


  • "We hope over time that it will be embraced by the city," he said.
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