Descriptions of the horrors of slavery, the terrible conflicts of the Civil War, the drama that was Lincoln’s life, and the soulful expression captured miraculously in several photographic portraits of Lincoln made an indelible impression upon me at a very early age, and since then have continued to stir my imagination. I saw this book as a rare opportunity to give expression and tangible shape to the multitude of haunting images and symbolic images that the name Abraham Lincoln has conjured up in my mind for as long as I can remember. For this reason, the images I have created do not aspire to be literal translations of any particular passages found in the text. Instead, wishing to see Lincoln through the impressionable eyes of a child, I strove to create symbols that could best express and pay homage to the larger-than-life quality that Lincoln’s life and legend possess.
Readers will note that the book opens with a bold portrait of Lincoln depicted as a vibrant sun that both dominates and nourishes the farmland below. In the end, however, Lincoln undergoes a transformation—the book closes with a melancholy portrait of Lincoln in the guise of a crescent moon, tipped slightly downward. I hope that the analogy I have drawn between Lincoln and the proverbial man in the moon will express the way I have always felt about Lincoln and his legacy: like the man in the moon above us, Lincoln is universal, timeless, and omnipresent. Looming large above us in our collective imaginations, Lincoln’s specter haunts us with his destiny and our own, reminding us of our limitations but also of our potential to overcome such limitations. In many ways he has become our conscience, a meter by which we measure right and wrong.
Above all, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is, like the man in the moon, a comforting and reassuring presence, casting a beam of light our way—a light we can always turn to for inspiration but that we must never take for granted.