Ed Ruscha, Idea, 1976. Pastel on paper. McEvoy Family Collection. © Ed Ruscha.


What are words worth?

Selections from the McEvoy Family Collection illustrate the transformative potential of words in modern and contemporary visual arts.

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.


Mitchell Anderson
Ilse Bing
Andrea Bowers
Raymond Cauchetier
Natalie Czech
Moyra Davey
Alfred Eisenstaedt
Robert Frank
Lee Friedlander
John Giorno
John Gossage
Corita Kent
André Kertész
Doug Keyes

Daniel Kramer
Zoe Leonard
Builder Levy
Robert Mapplethorpe
Bruce Nauman
Gordon Parks
Timm Rautert
Ed Ruscha
Accra Shepp
Simmons & Burke
Lorna Simpson
Larry Sultan
Fred Tomaselli
Catherine Wagner