Poetry in Motion: The Meaning behind the Stunning Sculpture at MSK’s Josie Robertson Surgery Center

By Meredith Begley,

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Visitors to Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Josie Robertson Surgery Center — which opened one year ago — will first notice the cascading sculpture in the window of the lobby. Here, the artists share the story of the young man who inspired it.

  • The Josie Robertson Surgery Center, MSK’s state-of-the-art outpatient surgical center, opened in January 2016.
  • A sculpture entitled Wordfall was commissioned especially for the building.
  • The piece bears an emotional connection to an inspiring patient and his family.

It’s been one year since the opening of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Josie Robertson Surgery Center, a state-of-the-art facility for outpatient and short-stay surgeries. In the past year, surgeons have performed more than 6,500 procedures, allowing patients to return home to heal quickly.

When visitors first enter the building, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, they surely notice Wordfall, a moving piece of art commissioned especially for the space.

Artists Francie Hester and Lisa Hill created Wordfall in memory of Brendan Ogg, a young man with a passion for poetry. When Brendan developed a brain tumor, he wrote about life’s simple, sweet moments and the support he received throughout his care.

“Writing was his ambition and his life,” Brendan’s father, Clay Ogg, says. “It was his way of dealing with what was happening.”

Although Brendan was not treated at MSK, his spirit lives on in the surgical center. Ms. Hester and Ms. Hill created Wordfall out of 80,000 paper clips, each fastened with words from Brendan’s poems. The result is a fluid, cascading tribute to the gifted poet.

“We hope Wordfall is a nice welcome for incoming patients,” says Ms. Hester. “I hope they come away with a positive feeling of treatment and the process of healing, which seems to be the philosophy of the Josie Robertson Surgery Center.”


I recently had a mastectomy at this wonderful facility on August 25th. The staff was incredible, and the atmosphere was almost like staying in a hotel. From the moment you pull up with the valet parking, to the minute you leave, you are treated like royality!!! What an amazing facility and very well run.

Dear Renee, we are glad to know you felt well-cared for by your MSK care team, and had a good experience at the Josie Robertson Surgery Center. Thank you for sharing your kind words on our blog!

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