American Medal of the Year is Announced

Mel Wacks, Jury Chair of the the American Medallic Sculpture Association’s American Medal of the Year (AMY) Award, has announced that the winner of the 2015 competition is the innovative 3-part medal “Season of the Crow” by Richard Bonham. Runner up was another unorthodox medal “The Past Watching the Future Appear” by Polly Purvis.

Richard Bonham graduated from Kutztown State College, Pennsylvania in Art Education. He was hired by the Bloomsburg School District as an art teacher and spent the next thirty-eight years teaching. Along with teaching, Bonham set up a bronze casting foundry and produced sculpture and competed for sculpture commissions. In 1984 he saw an advertisement for the International Medallic Art Workshop organized by John Cook, professor of art and a fellow in the Institute for the Arts and Humanistic Studies at Pennsylvania State University. Not only was the workshop “a wonderful learning experience,” according to Bonham, but he had the opportunity to meet and work with people who are today some of the finest medallic sculptors. Bonham joined the American Medallic Sculpture Association and has participated in most of AMSA’s exhibitions since that time.

Richard Bonham has also made metal prototype guns, swords, armor and anything else needed for the popular line of twelve-inch G.I. Joe figures. Since most of the miniature prototypes created were of objects that were originally machined, not cast and the one-sixth scale so small, he found that sculpting these objects from clay or wax was not a viable option. Bonham created prototypes by handcrafting dozens and sometimes a hundred or so individual pieces of brass that were brazed and silver soldered together to form the final object. The prototypes would then be sent to China where a pantograph machining system would create injection molds to produce the final plastic toy. About this time Bonham became disenchanted with the bronze casting process. Sculpting the original model, making a rubber mold, casting a wax model, making an investment mold, burning out the wax and casting bronze then finishing the bronze was a long, tiring process.

He decided to make one-of-a-kind medals using the same techniques used to make the toy prototypes. Bonham creates his sculptures from brass, bronze, copper, gold and silver. His main design influences are Meiji period Japanese metalworking designs and techniques. All of Bonham’s medals are unique and require many hours of work to create each piece, such as the AMY Award winning “Season of the Crow.” It is not for sale.

Polly Purvis’ "The Past Watching the Future Appear" medal was fabricated with found metals. Thus, there is no “edition;” however a second "variation" will be available that is similar to the original.

The American Medallic Sculpture Association (AMSA) is a group of sculptors, artists, collectors, etc. with a common interest in promoting medallic art. AMSA publishes a quarterly newsletter and maintains a website AMSAnews@frontier.com; dues are $40 per year. For further information about AMSA, or contact information for Richard Bonham or Polly Purvis, email supermemdal@frontier.com.

For further information, contact Mel Wacks at 818-225-1348 or numismel@aol.com.

Below are pictures of the runner up medal of the 2015 AMY