Nina Pickett, a Hospital Administrator at MSK, was struck by the beauty and power of the Wordfall installation at MSK’s Josie Robertson Surgery Center. She knew that this piece, and the story behind it, would have particular significance for young adults dealing with cancer. Within days, a second Wordfall project, to be called Wordfall: Currents, was commissioned for the new 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 will wrap 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 will 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 will be intermingled with monoprints of iridescent blue, gold and green created by the artists.
Because the young patients will be integral to the creation of Currents, a community with a shared artistic goal should ensue. Plans are also underway for the patients to write their own poetry, engaging with Wordfall: Currents, 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.