“Abraham Blue” by Doug Leunig

Artist Statement

Images of Lincoln abound everywhere in Illinois from the five-dollar bill we pull out of our pocket to buy a cup of coffee to the copper coins we put in the change jar to the license plate on the car in front of us. Lincoln is omnipresent, so it’s not unusual to see an image of Lincoln. What is unusual is to see his face 50-feet tall and blue.

“Abraham Blue” honors Lincoln the hero and Lincoln the man. The larger-than-life hero is deserving of the larger-than-life mural that will be hung on Peoria County Courthouse. Lincoln is remembered in history as the hero who impacted the course of our nation enduring public ridicule, political pressure, and strong arming by adversaries and allies. He resisted all that to create a better life for people who have been enslaved.

Lincoln as a hero emulates what we believe most of us hope resides in our own selves. The ability to rise to the occasion to face an insurmountable burden and find the strength within ourselves to persevere. To withstand pain, hatred, and alienation because we have a passion that must be answered. That was Lincoln, the larger-than life hero.

Lincoln as a man wasn’t quite so perfect. Lincoln wasn’t an abolitionist, but he sincerely believed slavery was morally wrong and and he announced his views in a three-hour speech in Peoria in 1854.

As a man, Lincoln also suffered greatly from depression. He was once called himself the most miserable man in the world. Abraham Blue is a dark and brooding image created by the Leunigs to raise awareness about depression and mental health issues. The likeness of Lincoln was taken from a five dollar bill.

“Abraham Blue” as public art is intended to elicit dialog and open conversation about depression and remove its stigma. It’s intended to encourage discussion about what we value in our leaders and what we value in our community. “Abraham Blue” represents our community’s ability to face adversity and rise above it to create a future that is better for all. 

“Abraham Blue,” the 50-foot mural installed on the Peoria County Courthouse, was dedicated October 11, 2018, as the launch of Big Picture Initiative. Funding was raised through individual donors and sponsors.