Art Commission Award for Excellence in Design 1986
Donna Dennis turned to the rich history of the New York Harbor and the Washington Market for her designs for P.S. 234 in Tribeca. For the building, the artist designed and hand-painted thirteen ceramic medallions representing the historic activity of Washington Market. She also designed a steel fence that portrays a dynamic procession of silhouetted ships gallantly parading around the schoolyard. As stated in The New York Times, "The rolling horizontalness of the fence seems to provide a human anchor for the World Trade Center behind it. And in the way a tugboat drags a tanker toward a school gate like a mother dragging her reluctant child, there is wit as well." The fence captures the vitality of the City's shipping industry, and is based on actual vessels that cruised New York Harbor. The ships, from an 18th-century ketch to a 20th-century barge, from as nearby as New Jersey and as far away as China, offer a glimpse into Washington Market's prosperous past and a hopeful vision of the future of lower Manhattan. Composed of fourteen panels set into arches, the fence runs 224 feet around two sides of the school playground.