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Shelter Island artist’s Lincoln exhibit takes to the road

“My Affair with Abraham Lincoln,” an exhibition of Lincoln portraits by artist Roz Dimon, is being featured at the Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport until January 2023.

Ms. Dimon, who lives on Shelter Island, describes the series as having “erupted as a spontaneous response to events in the United States between November 2020 and February 2021 — a political climate that one could argue is still ongoing.”

The Lincoln portraits are insightful reflections of these fraught times and generators of crucial social, political and cultural discourse.

Moreover, as Ms. Dimon notes, “It’s interesting that everyone claims Lincoln” when it comes to political philosophy.

In line with the exhibition’s spirit of civil discourse, Floyd Memorial Library hosted a free discussion on Oct. 28 led by Margaret Hoover, host of PBS’s Firing Line, who interviewed Ms. Dimon and John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst and author of this year’s “Lincoln and the Fight for Peace.”

Published this year, the Avlon book is one of the few among hundreds of Lincoln books that focuses on the president’s determination to forge a lasting peace after the Civil War. He discussed the book this summer at the Shelter Island Public Library, where Ms. Dimon’s Lincoln portrait set the stage.

Other events relating to the Lincoln show, including for younger members of the community, are to be announced by the library. Ms. Dimon says, “I’m very excited to have this series travel to Floyd Memorial Library and I look forward to engaging further with those who attend the exhibition and its related events.” Additional exhibitions at libraries and venues in the region are contemplated.

“LINCOLN #17(+) -”My Bow Tie’s Gone Blue Y’all.” (Credit: Roz Dimon)

Drawn in a variety of media on 19 x 13” rag paper and framed in black, these works are inspired by Alexander Gardner’s iconic 1863 Lincoln photograph, a copy of which is included in the exhibition.

Ms. Dimon describes how, on seeing this photo, she “fell in love with a face full of vision, suffering, steadfastness … a face offering multiple interpretations simultaneously … one that looked almost like a civil war battlefield itself. That was the beginning of my Lincoln series.”

Each portrait features a title particular to the day it was drawn and includes varying abstract interpretations of Abe’s classic bow tie. The original 19 drawings previewed in summer 2021 at Shelter Island Public Library’s Tent Week, where they inspired spirited public debate.

Five more works have since been added to the series. Four of these use QR code interaction to invite the viewer into an animated experience of a Lincoln portrait being drawn, one mark at a time. In Ms. Dimon’s words, this “inclusion of digital media brings the man to our age, and our age to the man in a way that speaks distinctly to this time.”

A final portrait was created this past summer of Mary Todd Lincoln. A salute to her and to women everywhere whose work and endurance often goes unrecognized, it is titled “I Had No One.”

Roz Dimon is a painter and interfaith minister who has worked with digital media since 1984. In the 1990s, she led new media initiatives for corporations at the World Trade Center while exhibiting her art from Soho to Japan.

Post 9/11, studies in medieval iconography inspired her to create art that communicates more deeply with others. These works are in various collections, including the 9/11 Memorial Museum, the Children’s Museum of the East End, and The Shelter Island Historical Society’s Havens House.

Ms. Dimon is a member of the Carter Burden Gallery in New York City and lives with her husband James Dawson on the Island.