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Lincoln as Monument, Lincoln as Icon

Deborah Willis, professor and chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging for the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, presented a discussion on perceptions of Lincoln through art and photography.  Her presentation was in the perfect setting:  the Historic Essex County Courthouse. The breathtaking restoration of the building was evident in the murals and other details in the courtroom where the event took place.

The building was opened in 1907, and Gutzon Borglum’s bronze “Seated Lincoln” statue was placed in front of the Courthouse in 1911. When the courthouse was renovated, the statue was stripped of any corrosion and weather damage, and a new coat of finish was applied to prevent future deterioration. Since the conveners chose Arnold Genthes famous photo of children on the courthouse’s “Seated Lincoln” for their poster, it was certainly fitting for Deb Willis’ presentation to take place here.

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Baraka Sele gave a warm and moving introduction of Deb Willis.

View inside the Historic Essex County Courthouse.

Deb Willis shares “Lincoln as Monument, Lincoln as Icon.”

Closing remarks were delivered by Clement Price, Rutgers Univ. Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of History and director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience.

Willis’ presentation was followed by a reception just outside the courtroom, where the beautifully restored Tiffany skylights are visible. The building and “Seated Lincoln” statue are on the National Register of Historic Places.