This decorative fence for P.S. 234 in Tribeca was my first permanent public art commission. My design, consisting of fourteen cut and welded steel panels and thirteen thematically related ceramic medallions, was meant to honor the history of Washington Market, which had opened on the site in 1812 and continued well into the 1960s. I wanted to bring this history to life not only for the students but also for others in the community.
I connected with my own childhood, a powerful source for my work, to create the kinds of images that would have set me dreaming then—dreaming of travelling into the past, into the future, travelling to distant places in the world and in my own imagination. My hope was that these images would set others to dreaming their own dreams.
I imagined a great parade of ships and researched the kinds of ships that might have docked over time on the nearby Hudson River. Among the ships depicted on the steel fence panels are the Joseph Pulitzer, a plumb-bowed schooner of 1896, the ferry Hunchback as seen in 1959, the Chinese junk named Keying, which appeared in the New York Harbor on July 13, 1847, having left Canton, China 212 days earlier. Also seen is Robert Fulton’s Clermont, which cast off in 1807 and steamed up the Hudson to Albany, demonstrating the practicability of steamship transportation. The hand-glazed ceramic medallions, installed in the fence’s brick facade, expand on the theme of Washington Market, showing views of buildings, stalls, and patrons over the years.
This project won New York City’s Art Commission Award for Excellence in Design in 1986.