AMSA American Medal of the Year Awarded to Susan Taylor

The American Medallic Sculpture Association (AMSA) recently announced the winner of the American Medal of the Year Award. Susan Taylor, a Canadian artist, won for her Remembrance medal. It honors the heroic efforts of the Taylor’s grandfather, George Edie and his fellow comrades who fought in the 2nd Battle of Ypres during the “Great War for Civilization” (more commonly referred to as World War I).

Susan Taylor, Remembrance medal

For 2016, there were 30 entries from 21 medalists vying for the American Medal of the Year Award. According to Committee Chairman, Mel Wacks, “The jurors had a tough time choosing among many wonderful medals.”

As reported in E-Sylum, Taylor describes her Remembrance medal as follows: “The portrait of the young soldier framed by the barbed wire represents youth sacrificed through the loss of life, imprisonment and emotional trauma. On the reverse the poppies emerging from the barbed wire symbolize the loss of life through the spent flowers, the flowers in bloom: the survivors and the young buds: the future, lest we forget.”

The Second Battle of Ypres was fought from April 22 to May 25, 1915. In the first major battle fought by Canadian troops during the war, the soldiers battled the Germans for control of the Flemish town of Ypres in western Belgium. Despite the German army’s use of poison gas (the first chemical weapon attack in modern history), the Canadian soldiers held the line, and the Allies ultimately maintained control of the strategic position. More than 6,500 Canadians were killed, wounded, or captured in the battle.

Susan Taylor is currently a Senior Engraver at the Royal Canadian Mint, where she has worked for more than three decades. Outside of her work at the Mint, she has sculpted medals and awards for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, World Maritime University in Malmo Sweden, Canadian Conference of the Arts and the Canadian Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing Operations. Taylor also serves as the Canadian Vice Delegate to FIDEM. She played a significant role in bringing the 2018 FIDEM Congress/Exhibit of medals to Ottawa, Canada.

While Taylor tends to maintain a low profile and always sports a pleasant demeanor with a smile on her face as many Canadians do, her medals often confront contemporary social issues using analogy or metaphor.   “While we were sleeping,” 2015, bronze, 114.5 X 76mm, exhibited at FIDEM 2016 comments on the worldwide environmental crisis, but it calls upon the viewer to take that leap.

The global message of “While we were sleeping” is twice removed and requires some viewer effort.  The overt topic of the medal is the use of stone, in this case marble from Carrara, to make sculpture and to build structures.  A sculpture of a sleeping nymph from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence is depicted on the obverse of the medal.  The use of the sculpture illustrates that for whatever purpose the stone is used—high art or common structures—the damage to the landscape by excavating the materials needed is the same.

The large 90mm bronze Remembrance medal will be limited to 45 pieces and will sell for $125 plus $10 shipping. Anyone interested in purchasing the medal should contact Susan directly at susan.taylor@sympatico.ca.

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