Wordfall: Currents

Wordfall: Currents

Installation by Francie Hester and Lisa Hill

Memorial Sloan Kettering
Josie Robertson Surgery Center
TYA Lounge
New York City



“Wordfall: Currents” Installed at Memorial Sloan Kettering

Wordfall: Currents by Francie Hester and Lisa Hill is now on view at the Teen and Young Adult Program Lounge in the Pediatric Center of MSK at 1275 York Avenue at 67th Street.

Wordfall: Currents, like its sister Wordfall several blocks south, draws on the poetry of Brendan Ogg, a 20 year old cancer patient who turned to poetry and art during his 14 month battle with the disease.  The young adults undergoing treatment at MSK wrapped fragments of Brendan’s poetry around 30,000 paperclips. The installation, also created by Francie Hester and Lisa Hill, is inspired by the lounge’s spiral staircase, and builds upon a theme of movement and written word to create an interactive memorial. The strands of wrapped paperclips fall from top to bottom of the staircase, bringing both a sense of contemplation and healing to the room.  The strands of black-and-white poetry are intermingled with monoprints of iridescent blue, gold, and green created by the artists.

The young patients are integral to the creation of Currents, and from it a community with a shared artistic goal has emerged. Plans are also underway for the patients to write their own poetry, engaging with the installation, which speaks to the power of words as legacy.  MSK’s new Teen and Young Adult Lounge is one of just a handful of programs across the country focused on this unique age group.


Installation by Francie Hester and Lisa Hill
1133 York Ave, New York, NY 10065



Text is integral to Wordfall. The catalyst is the poetry of Brendan Ogg, an aspiring writer who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 19 during his sophomore year in college. In the face of his illness, he created a collection of poetry entitled Summer Becomes Absurd, which reveals the energy of youth, the wisdom of one who has met and acknowledged mortality, and an embrace and celebration of life. It was heartbreaking when Brendan succumbed to brain cancer at the tender yet insightful age of 20.

Wordfall weaves together six of Brendan’s poems as a tribute to his life and spirit. Friends, family, and others who did not know Brendan wrapped more than 80,000 paper clips with his words. A new community emerged among those who shared in the wrapping, in Brendan’s story and in the idea of words as legacy. Each participant found something unique in the artwork, reflecting that pieces of those we lose stay with us in new and sometimes surprising ways. The wrapped paper clips transformed the written work into an enduring memorial — linkages of words, random at times, but with inherent messages.

Below are two poems from Summer Becomes Absurd by Brendan Ogg. The book is available at Amazon or through Finishing Line Press.

{L’CHAIM} (“To Life”)

Feather rug, soft bed of matted grass,
Why did I question this place of endless beauty—
Where was my heart before this time?
Put your hand there, fingers spreading from the palm,
And feel the warm, insistent pulse.
to my friend, in weakness?
Now I feel it in my breast.


Keep me from fear,
that cold paralysis,
the squirming nausea.
I have my whole life to be afraid.
I am sick of these half eaten fingernails. No.
There! With that declaration, the anvil weight of dread
falls loosely from the chain around my neck.
I have my entire life,
however long it is.
I have my own eternity in a hundred years,
or in an instant.




{With Thanks}

More than 300 people across 50 states, and 2 continents, and were mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, who ranged in age from 10 years old to 91 years old, friends, teachers, and strangers, some who had survived cancer, others who were cancer caregivers, wrapped 6 of Brendan Ogg’s poems healthcare workers, and the homeless, around 80,000 paperclips using 60 pounds of paper. Thank you.

WITH SPECIAL GRATITUDE TO: The Ogg family & Howard Connelly, engineer and fabricator




Francie Hester and Lisa Hill have collaborated on projects, installations, and exhibitions for more than twenty years.

FRANCIE HESTER has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally. Her work is represented in numerous private and corporate collections including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Airbus, Capital One, Freddie Mac, ASHA, and Booz Allen Hamilton. She has received honorary grants from the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and from the Arts Council of Montgomery County, Maryland. She received her M.F.A. in painting from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a B.F.A. in painting from the University of Michigan. Hester is represented by Susan Eley Fine Art in New York City.

LISA HILL is a fine artist, graphic/interactive designer and educator. She is the Assistant Dean for the Communication Design Program at Northern Virginia Community College and has also taught at Johns Hopkins University and the Corcoran College of Art + Design. Her work is represented nationally in many private collections, and she has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. She was awarded an honorary grant from the Arts Council of Montgomery County, Maryland. She received her B.A. in Fine Arts/Graphic Design from the University of Florida and her M.F.A. in Studio Art from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA.)



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