The Hand Medal Project was created by friends and artists Iris Eichenberg and Jimena Ríos in Spain. On HandMedalProject.com they explain "While we are all watching caregivers, nurses, and doctors giving all they can to our communities, risking their lives for us, we want to find a way to honor them. They should all get a medal, a votive offering given in gratitude or devotion. At some point this crisis will end and there will be a moment when we can thank them for all they do. We propose to present as many health workers as we can with a medal based on a traditional ex-voto, also to mark the moment when we can see a future."
Excerpted from "In Your Hands" on Art Jewelry Forum:
"At the Escuela de Arte de Sevilla, in Spain, metalworking students usually spend early spring working with local workshops to make religious jewels and decorations in preparation for the Holy Week, or Semana Santa. This year was different, as it was for so many around the world. As a result of COVID-19, there were no festivities to prepare for, and with many fighting the virus on hospital front lines, the students have instead been sawing little silhouettes of hands from metal. These will join hundreds of other hand-shaped pieces from schools, workshops, and studios across the globe to become medals for medical workers as part of the Hand Medal Project.
This project was conceived by friends and artists Iris Eichenberg and Jimena Ríos, who first collaborated on the exhibition Verdadero Es lo Hecho: Ex Votos and Contemporary Jewellery, which opened last fall in Buenos Aires and was inspired by ex-votos—handheld objects of devotion that honor a gratitude or a wish. Neither artist could have imagined that their next project would come so quickly, or put the spirit embodied by the ex-voto into active service.
Although the scope of the Hand Medal Project is vast, its aim is straightforward: for artists, jewelers, students, and professionals to craft medals that will honor the service and sacrifice of health workers. Infused with the gratitude of the ex-voto and the tribute of a medal, these hands will be made and collected over the next three months, then bestowed upon medical workers the second Sunday in November.
The design is drawn from a historical Argentinian ex-voto from Ríos’s collection, its meaning forged in service. The organizers have looked to metalwork’s historical roots, with Eichenberg noting that as contemporary jewelers, “we sometimes forget that we make objects that often come to life the moment someone else uses [them].”
As a material, metal can speak many languages, but it has often been used as a symbol of strength; its innate physicality is a key condition. Unlike a war, our current battle with coronavirus is fought with an enemy invisible to the naked eye, its specter made all the more ominous by its intangibility—a danger you cannot see. By contrast, metal, especially jewelry, is known by its weight and shape against the body. When formed into a medal, it provides a physical testimony for both the unseen virus and invisible bravery of those who have fought it.
While our Anneville Team is full you can still participate by signing up on the Hand Medal Project website.
Educator, metalsmith, jeweler, maker of custom mokume gane jewelry and wedding rings.