Ever since his teenage years, USC Aiken Professor Dr. Michael Fowler has found Abraham Lincoln remarkably fascinating – as well as the compelling paintings and drawings that keep him so much alive in the American consciousness.


In observance of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Fowler will host a seminar at USCA's Etherredge Center on Saturday at 2 p.m. Guest speaker is Dr. Barry Schwartz, the author of an upcoming book on that seminal event.


The event is free to the public.


Fowler also has coordinated an exhibit by artist Wendy Allen. Ten of her many depictions of Lincoln are on display at the Etherredge Center through Dec. 15. Schwartz, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Georgia, also will discuss Allen's paintings.


“To me,” Fowler said, “it's about Lincoln's courage and perseverance. He had struggles with his faith and God and the long, traumatic war to deal with. Lincoln was trying to see the purpose of the war, with hundreds of thousands of lives lost.”


The president was steadfast in his support of the Emancipation Proclamation, the need to be more equitable of African-Americans. Fowler was moved that in the movie, “Lincoln,” director Steven Spielberg chose to focus on the 13th Amendment to end slavery – which Lincoln shrewdly was able to convince Congress to cross party lines.


In Allen's artistic statement provided by Fowler, Allen describes how for three decades she has addressed in her work how humans uniquely have a sense of history. She actually operates a gallery in Gettysburg, which is devoted to her Lincoln paintings.


“I paint the collision of compassion and courage, sacrifice and determination,” Allen wrote. “To me, Abraham Lincoln's face also represents freedom. His face is universally familiar – and yet there is so much to discover. Painting his face over and over again, in different styles and techniques, has become my life's passion. My painting is obsessive because freedom is never finished.”


Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.