What are words worth?
McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco
16 June 2023 - 2 September 2023

What are words worth? explores the expansive holdings of artworks in the McEvoy Family Collection that engage language, literature, and typography. The exhibition’s title, borrowed from lyrics in the Tom Tom Club’s 1981 song “Wordy Rappinghood,” references the poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850). Expanding upon this playful reference to poetry, the modern and contemporary photographs, paintings, and prints on view examine how words stimulate imagination and creativity.

A portion of the exhibition is dedicated to a selection of works by the German conceptual photographer Natalie Czech, who cleverly locates poems in everyday materials such as vinyl album covers and newspapers. Other works by street photographers including Isle Bing, Lee Friedlander, and Gordon Parks look at text in the world around us. Works by artists Mitchell Anderson, John Giorno, and Ed Ruscha explore the role of typography in political, spiritual, and conceptual rhetoric.

What are words worth? is joined by a program of short films in McEvoy Arts’ Screening Room and public events. McEvoy Arts will close permanently to the public following the conclusion of the exhibition on September 2, 2023.

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