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international art medal competitions

The Guild of Medallic Art in Finland's annual art medal competition (Finland)

The Guild of Medallic Art in Finland has held its annual art medal competition. 48 submissions were sent in. The first prize was awarded to Teemu Virtanen for his medal called Isolated (50 x 30 mm). The jury said:

"Teemu Virtanen, a 30-year-old from Tampere, is studying painting and sculpture at the Kankaanpää Art School. Isolated is his second medal. The small five-centimeter-tall work made a great impression on the jury. The work eloquently depicts the feelings arising from the current pandemic and, more generally, human anxiety in an urban setting. Narrative to the medal is brought by a piercing that changes perspective between a communal and an individual experience. The vertical rectangle and vibrant texture make the medal look like a small painting, which is well suited to a way of working that transcends the boundaries of the artist’s technique."


The second prize went to Maija Hyvönen-Hossain for her medal The epidemic is spreading.


The third prize went to Juha Welling for his medal Exponential change.




Competition: 100th anniversary of women's suffrage (USA)

A relatively new medalist, Eva-Maria Wohn, of Chicago has created the best art medal on the theme of the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Ammendment, granting women the right to vote. Sponsored by the American Medallic Sculpture Association (AMSA), the winner also will receive a $300 prize. Wohn’s medal was chosen by a committee chaired by Mel Wacks, member of AMSA’s Board of Directors, consisting of seven distinguished jurors: Philip Attwood, President of Fédération Internationale de la Médaille d'Art; Ellen Feingold, Curator of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution; Cory Gillilland, formerly Deputy Director of the National Numismatic Collection; Caleb Noel, editor of The Numismatist; Steve Roach, editor-at-large of Coin World; Dr. Alan Stahl, Curator of Numismatics, Princeton University; and Dr. Benjamin Weiss, member of the Board of Directors of Medal Collectors of America.


Eva-Maria Wohn wrote to the committee, saying: “I had great fun coming up with a concept and a theme. The research alone was worth it. It’s such a beautiful art form I am always surprised that so few people have fallen under its spell. For the obverse side, I chose the Statue of Liberty to be part of a Suffrage medal, to point out the irony that she stood in the harbor for 34 years before she would have been able to vote in the very democracy she was symbolizing to the world. Liberty is not centered within the “100” because there is still some progress to be made. The reverse features a quote “where we were but a handful” from Elizabeth Cady Stanton reminiscing about the few but radical supporters of the amendment, but also recognizing that so many lives would be changed because of it. The woman in jail is from an archive photo of a suffragette in prison.”

Eva-Maria Wohn was introduced to the art of medals a few years ago by one of the modern masters of the medium, Eugene Daub. Since that time, she has created numerous medals in order to refine and explore various styles and to learn the technical aspects of sculpting medals. Wohn says that “My attempts are not all aesthetic or technical successes, but each one has a lesson that informs the next piece and also my other sculptural work.” She believes that sculpting medals has given her tools that have made her bas relief, and sculpture in the round, “infinitely better.” Wohn goes on: “Because the geography of a medal is small, there is no room to hide bad composition, awkward perspective or poorly defined light and shadow. Being a good editor is just as vital as being a good sculptor.”

Eva-Maria also loves the idea of a story compressed into such a small space. Her favorite medals are those that despite the limitation of space, invite the viewer to explore the message, saying: “Overt messages are often less interesting than those that take the viewer on a journey to that end.” She tries hard to create a narrative that “is interesting and engaging ― one that leaves a viewer room to insert their own views and interpretations; one that invites wonder and curiosity, and ultimately, a kinship with the maker.” Eva-Maria Wohn will be the first to admit that her medallic sculptures have not always met that goal, but says that her love of this lovely art form “makes the work of getting there a joy.”

Wohn’s original submission was actually made with the cold-cast process. Since winning, she has decided to produce a limited edition of no more than 19 cast bronze 4-inch medals. For price and availability, contact Eva-Maria Wohn at


Guidelines for art medal competitions and commissions

FIDEM using their full experience have prepared a guideline to help all those interested in medals.

For more information