March 16, 2010, Updated September 24, 2012

The Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada opened on March 12 and run to March 21. They follow the regular Winter Olympics that were held from February 12 to 28. Months before any athletic competition was held, another contest was held to determine which artist would design this year’s medals. The winner was Jerusalem-born designer Omer Arbel.

Arbel, an architect and industrial designer, submitted his proposal nearly two years ago. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post he said that it was important to him that each medal be individual and original in the context of a cohesive theme: “Each athlete’s story is unique but each athlete is connected to each through a larger Olympic ideal.”

The International Olympic Committee jurors supported his idea. The finished product is an undulating surface that reflects the topography of the province of British Columbia. Super-imposed on it is a segment of a piece of artwork by local aboriginal artist Corinne Hunt. Only by putting all the medals together can the full piece be rendered.

Arbel, who moved to Canada at age 13, says that while he still dreams in Hebrew, his work “transcends language and place,” and while being Israeli “is a big part of my background and identity, I’m a combination of many different things, one of which is Israeli.”

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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