A medal honouring George Floyd, who was murdered by police during a May 2020 arrest in his hometown of Minneapolis, Minn., has won the 2021 American Medal of the Year (AMY) award.
Established in 2014, the honour is handed out by the American Medallic Sculptors Association (AMSA), who this year chose Pennsylvania artist Jeanne Stevens-Sollman as its winner. Her medal depicts Floyd, a 46-year-old bouncer killed by police after a store clerk suspected he used a counterfeit $20 banknote.
One of four responding officers was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, sparking international protests in the following weeks.
The medal’s obverse features a portrait of Floyd alongside his name, date of death, dying words (“I CAN’T BREATH”) and the numerals “8 46,” indicating the length of time now-disgraced officer Derek Chauvin – since convicted of murder – kneeled on his neck.
The reverse depicts three raised fists and the inscription “NO JUSTICE / NO PEACE.”
Stevens-Sollman donated an example of her medal to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
She also sold a limited run of only 25 cast-bronze examples of the large, 95-millimetre art medal for $200, with all profits donated to the Black Lives Matter organization.
Her medal topped the other two runners-up by just one vote, according to Mel Wacks, AMY committee chair.