By Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….
Joining the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) just earlier this year, sculptor Darla Jackson has resigned from the Committee to join the full-time creative staff of the United States Mint as a Medallic Artist. She had served on the 11-seat CCAC as the Committee’s specialist in the sculptural and medallic arts.
The Mint is currently seeking applications for her replacement, with a submission deadline of January 4, 2024. This notice was released to the public on December 1.
Long committed to her community in Philadelphia, Ms. Jackson earned her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Moore College of Arts, a local visual arts school for women. She won Arts Challenge Grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 2011 and 2013; according to their website, the Knight Foundation “support[s] a more effective democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once published newspapers.”
Jackson also founded the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, a sculpture studio that community members can join like a gym. She currently teaches moldmaking and figure modeling as an Assistant Professor at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and is an elected member of the National Sculpture Society, where she serves on the Honors and Awards Committee. Ms. Jackson has also been a member of the Board of Philadelphia Sculptors since 2021.
She was appointed to serve a four-year term with the CCAC as the member “specifically qualified in medallic arts or sculpture” by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on March 23, 2023, and sworn in at the April 18 public meeting (PDF Link) at the Mint’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.
Artists at the United States Mint
The Engraving Department at the United States Mint utilizes two separate pools of talent.
Until recently, the Mint refered to its full-time, in-house staff as sculptor-engravers; these individuals are now called Medallic Artists. These employees create design work and sculpt models for new coins and medals. Besides Ms. Jackson, current U.S. Mint Medallic Artists include Craig Campbell, Eric David Custer, Renata Gordon, Phebe Hemphill, John P. McGraw, and Chief Engraver Joseph P. Menna.
To add fresh perspectives, styles, and ideas to contemporary American coin design, Congress established the Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) in 2003. While the nature of the work is somewhat freelance, AIP artists develop relationships with the Mint and work directly with Medallic Artists to created new designs. The U.S. Mint issues public invitations for professional artists to join the AIP when openings are available.
CCAC’s Jackson Not the First
Another former CCAC member has already followed a similar path to Jackson.
Heidi Wastweet, who served two terms as the Committee’s sculpture and medallics art expert from 2010 through 2018, has realized her designs on modern U.S. coins through the Artistic Infusion Program since her departure from the CCAC, starting with the reverse of the 2021 National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum commemorative half dollar.
About the CCAC
Established by Public Law 108-15 in 2003, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) advises the Secretary of the Treasury on the themes and artwork that grace our country’s coins and medals. This includes commemoratives, Congressional Gold Medals, Mint medals, bullion coins, other special numismatic programs, and all circulating coinage. The Treasury Secretary then makes the final decision. The CCAC can also suggest mintage level recommendations.
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