Beyond Two Dimensions

Forest Lawn Museum Glendale, California

Welcome to ‘Beyond Two-Dimensions’, an exhibition of medallic art by members of the American Medallic Sculpture Association, a group dedicated to keeping alive a tradition of a particularly unique art form.

While perhaps the most familiar of all works of art may be the miniature two-sided reliefs which we all carry in our pockets and use as currency, the artworks here go further in this direction. Medallic art has traditionally been a vehicle to commemorate an event or a person, sometimes an award for special talents or service. There are many works here that follow that paradigm, and there are many that are personal articulations of the artist’s feelings or ideas about life.

Most of us have daily experiences that become part of our overall perceptions about the elements of life: people, the world, family, you name it. Artists try to make sense of these observations by sharing them. Regardless of medium, we are usually trying to figure out the best way of relating our experiences to the rest of the world.

Members of AMSA have chosen a singular art form that has been part of the human psyche for millennia: relief sculpture. An art form unlike traditional sculpture since it is not viewed in space as would be say ‘David’ by Michelangelo, but which creates an illusion of space more closely related to drawing. Something between two and three dimensions and which in some way is more demanding than either. A relief artist must master the problems that confront the draughtsman as well the sculptor.

So you see here the efforts to communicate, entertain, enlighten, and pay homage: any number of adjectives that describe our particular way of celebrating our lives and the lives of others. Enjoy our efforts as much as we enjoy the act of creation.

From the Catalog

Jim Licaretz

What is an ART MEDAL? For hundreds of years medals have been struck or cast to commemorate and honor important persons or events. In the 19th Century the medal became a vital part of commerce and diplomacy, reaching new heights of artistic perfection under the mastery of artists such as Augustus St. Gaudens and Daniel Chester French. Today, the Art Medal has become a major and accepted form of contemporary artistic expression worldwide, and are created by noted artists.

The Fine Art Medal is a form of “collectable sculpture” that can be carried in the pocket, easily displayed in the home or office, and now graces the collections of major museums and galleries. Although the primary purpose of the Art Medal may remain the recognition of an important person, historic event or corporate or civic milestone, the rapid acceptance of the Fine Art Medal as a serious and respected collectable art form in its’ own right is a major development in the history of the medal.

The Fine Art Medal shares one similarity with the coin, in that both are small, usually two-sided sculptures, created in bas-relief, or “flattened” sculpture. However, the contemporary Art Medal has broken this similarity, evolving into complex, often controversial objects of beauty and aesthetic appreciation, created by talented artists, and as likely to be cast or fabricated in small numbers, as minted, or die-struck, in large editions. The careful manipulation of the obverse and reverse designs can create tension and opposing viewpoints, the “other side of the coin”, so to speak. In addition, the Fine Art Medal incorporates the elements of surprise and time, in that, unlike sculpture-in-the-round, one must turn the medal over to reveal the true meaning. The Art Medal is also distinguished from the common “coin” in that they are created with a high level of artistic quality by the finest sculptors, often in high relief, and with beautiful patina finishes more often seen on large sculptures-in-the-round, as well as silver, gold and even platinum metals. Art Medals can range in size from tiny to over 6 inches in size. The most common are 1½” (38mm), 2″ (50mm) and 3″ (76mm). Usually round, they can be made in almost any shape such as square, oblong or free formed.

Critical to the successful production of any medallic program or Art Medal is the training and skill of the artist, who must create the original work of art to meet the severe technical demands of the casting or minting process. Whether for a low relief Coin Medal or high relief Art Medal, many factors must be considered.

Foremost is the design itself, which, in addition to capturing the subject matter, must be appropriate to the finished size of the piece. Small medals require a simple and easily read design, while larger pieces can be more complex and of deeper relief. Also important for die-striking is countering, or the relationship of obverse to reverse design to allow for metal flow and displacement, and the intended finish, or patina, which is directly impacted by texture.

The Art Medal can be created by the “lost-wax” casting process from the artists original work, either as direct casting (one only) or from rubber molds made from the original. This process allows for great creativity with few technical limitations, thus allowing the artist to truly create a limited edition (1-100) work at minimal cost. However, the lost-wax process is usually not a cost effective solution for medallic programs that require larger quantities. The Fine Art Medal may also be fabricated, combining several or many materials into the work, often including cast elements as well.

For higher production requirements, Art Medals are most often die-struck from hardened steel dies cut on sophisticated pantograph machines from hard negative “shells” created by the mint from the artists original large scale plaster model. The accuracy is such that even the fingerprint of the artist is reproduced. Above all, the contemporary Fine Art Medal is an expression of the artist’s vision, joyful and exuberant, sad, thoughtful, provocative or simply an object of beauty. In the words of Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, former AMSA president: ” Like a poem, a medal should speak to you, inviting you to return and wonder. As small an art form as it is, a medal should be strong enough to reach out and steal you into another world.” The medals exhibited here at the Forest Lawn Museum represent the many “faces” of the contemporary Fine Art Medal, and those who create them. We of AMSA hope that you have enjoyed this exhibition as much as we have in bringing it to you.

About the Museum

The FOREST LAWN MUSEUM is located in the world famous Forest Lawn Memorial Park, in Glendale, CA, just minutes from Los Angeles. Founded in 1917, they are known for their large collection of Fine Art, including over 500 original bronze sculptures by American artists, as well as authorized full size reproductions of the major works by Michelangelo and Ghiberti, among others. The spacious Gallery serves as the entrance to the Museum, and adjoins the Great Hall of the Crucifixion, home of the worlds largest oil painting. Forest Lawn attracts many thousands each month to share and enjoy the beauty and fine art.


For this exhibition, a “medal” is defined as “a representational or abstract sculptural interpretation of a subject or artistic statement rendered in bas-relief upon a field or background”. Size shall not exceed six inches in length, width or diameter, with a thickness not to exceed two inches. Works shall be in a permanent media only, including metals, fired ceramics, glass, plastic, stone or wood. Works in plaster, plasteline, wax, clay, paper, card or other non-permanent media will be rejected. Medals may be free-standing, however, sculptures “in-the-round” are not eligible. Multi-part, book fold (triptych) or hinged are considered as one medal but must meet the above size requirements.

Jurors & Exhibition Committee

AMSA President Jim Licaretz, VP Eugene Daub, Secretary Anne-Lise Deering, Board member Mel Wachs, and Board member and Exhibition Chair Geri Jimenez Gould, in consultation with the Museum Director Alison Bruesehoff.

For additional information please contact

Geri Jimenez Gould
Exhibition Chair or
Voice: 760-723-5769
Fax: 760-723-7144
Gould Studios, P.O. Box 1237
Fallbrook, CA 92088-1237