The American Delegation of Fédération Internationale de la Médaille d'Arte:
FIDEM, the International Art Medal Federation (Fédération Internationale de la Médaille d’Arte) was founded in the 1930s as an organization representing the major producers of commemorative medals. In the succeeding decades, the scope has been enlarged to emphasize the activity of sculptors and collectors, and the main focus is the art of the medal.
The principal activity of FIDEM is the organization of an international congress and exhibition, usually every two years. At the congress, lectures and workshops explore the aesthetic, production and history of the medal. The exhibition features thousands of medals by artists from dozens of member countries, each country’s exhibition selected by its own delegation.
The membership of FIDEM is organized by participating countries, with each country having an official delegate, which may be an individual or group, responsible for organizing the participation of that country in the congresses and exhibitions. The central government of FIDEM comprises a President, two Vice-Presidents, and several additional members as well as the Secretary-General and Treasurer, who are the principal executive officers. All officers are elected in the General Assemblies held at the congresses.
FIDEM publishes a journal Médailles, which publishes the texts of presentations at the Congresses, and supports and distributes the magazine, published four times a year. Membership in FIDEM is open to individual artists, collectors, scholars and producers, as well as institutions and firms.
“An Introduction to the United States Delegation of FIDEM”
by Cory Gillilland
Current Vice President of FIDEM
USA FIDEM Delegate, 1987-2007
FIDEM membership for the United States was spurred by a former European couple. Lisa and Val Stefanelli, who since the 1950’s were enhancing and enlarging the numismatic collection of the Smithsonian Institution, sought to make the United States a member country. This happened in 1964 and Lisa became the first U.S. delegate that year. In 1951, however, the Director of the U.S. Mint, Nellie Taylor Ross, was part of an Honorary Committee at the Madrid Congress. Further, some U. S. artists did exhibit at earlier Congresses.
After 1964, U.S. artists were asked before each Congress to send their work for the FIDEM exposition to the Smithsonian where Lisa would then have it sent on to the appropriate persons responsible for organizing the FIDEM Congress. Often the U.S. was under represented or not represented at all. Only fourteen artists were listed in the Krakow catalog of 1975 and none were listed in the Helsinki catalog of 1973 or the Budapest catalog of 1977. Artist participation often highlighted only a few. It was during this era, however, that the embryo was forming; American artists took a look at the work of the European artists and saw a special creativity and uniqueness. The artists from what was then called the Eastern Block, though politically repressed, made amazing statements through their sculpture.
In 1983, one year after Val’s death, Lisa decided to step down as delegate. John Cook, a University of Pennsylvania art professor, and Dr. Alan Stahl, a curator at the American Numismatic Society, paid a visit to Lisa’s office and asked if she would recommend John for delegate and Alan as the vice delegate. John served as the delegate for the Florence Congress in 1983 and for the Stockholm Congress in 1985.
John then resigned and Alan took over as delegate in late 1986. He managed the first American Congress at Colorado Springs in 1987. Cory Gillilland was appointed vice delegate and they served together for the Colorado Springs Congress in 1987, the Helsinki Congress in 1990, the London Congress in l992, the Budapest Congress in 1994, the Neuchatel Congress in l996, and The Hague Congress in 1998.
Artists from the United States exhibiting at the FIDEM expositions since 1987 have been selected through a competition or judging. The number of medals to be selected has been determined by an allotment given to FIDEM/USA by the executive committee of the international FIDEM organization. The number varies by country. Factors such as whether a country has sponsored a FIDEM Congress come into play when allotments are made. U.S. artists send their medals and competition fees to the delegate who arranges for the judging to take place.
When Alan left the American Numismatic Society, Cory became the U.S. Delegate for the Weimar Congress of 2000. Jeanne Stevens-Sollman and Mashiko were appointed co-vice delegates for the Paris Congress in 2002 and continued in those positions for the Seixal Congress of 2004 and the second Colorado Springs Congress of 2007. At the Colorado Springs Congress, Cory was elected vice president of the international FIDEM organization. Mashiko became the U.S. Delegate with Jeanne continuing as the Vice-Delegate.