Raphael the Archangel

I have been working on a bas-relief for a Tacoma (Wa.) Virtual Heart Monitoring Clinic run by CHI Franciscan Health. They desperately needed a work of art that would inspire the team day to day and be a focal point in their building. They approached me looking for a piece of stained glass because they wanted color and something to glow while hung in their windowless building. I wanted to sculpt a work of art that would be meaningful in the context of their Clinic. The solution: blue cast leaded crystal

Inspired by the many bas relief roundelsI saw in Florence Italy, I chose Raphael the Archangel as the perfect subject. Raphael the Archangel is commonly referred to in the Christian tradition as the Angel that performs all manners of healing. Describing  his role as written in the story of Tobias (book of Tobit), he protected Tobit on his journey while concealing his identity.  He later reveals himself to Tobit and heals Tobit's father, Tobias from blindness. Raphael has become the patron of travelers, the blind, happy meetings, nurses, physicians, medical workers, and matchmakers. In recent years Raphael has become depicted more as what we commonly refer to as "The Guardian Angel." 

In my version of Raphael, he holds an orb with beams of light emanating from within. I focused on detailing his powerful arms and chest and the weightiness of his wings. The wings are modeled on those of the famed Condor, whose wingspans can reach an astounding ten feet!

Leaded cast glass held up in the shop. I'm so excited to get this new piece installed with proper lighting

Leaded cast glass held up in the shop. I'm so excited to get this new piece installed with proper lighting

California Art Club, 106th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition

Mardie Rees' bronze sculpture, "A Few of My Favorite Things," was selected to be a part of this year's California Art Club Gold Medal Exhibition held at the Autry Museum of the American West. The exhibition is full of museum quality works created by leading artists in California and out of state artists operating in the top in their fields: painting, drawing, and sculpture. 

Mardie is honored to be a part of this esteemed exhibition. "A Few of My Favorite Things" was inspired by watching her children play on a hot summer day. Reminded of the life lessons learned in playing with siblings and the give and take required, she examines the complex nature of these fundamental relationships. The faces of the young pair are caught somewhere between feelings. The purposeful ambiguity of their expressions beckons you make your own judgement on what is taking place. Is it about a girl tired of pulling her demanding brother around all day? Is it a sweet boy content to remain riding, or anxious to quit being treated like a doll? The possibilities keep your mind guessing while the dynamic composition keeps your eye in perpetual movement.

My kids, Jasmine and Adam, taking a closer look at the finished bronze sculpture. 

My kids, Jasmine and Adam, taking a closer look at the finished bronze sculpture. 

Mardie working on some final details on the bronze while looking at the original clay head.

Mardie working on some final details on the bronze while looking at the original clay head.

Mardie holding the wax cast of the girl while cleaning up imperfections in the wax as part of the process in bronze casting. 

Mardie holding the wax cast of the girl while cleaning up imperfections in the wax as part of the process in bronze casting. 


"A Few of My Favorite Things"
Bronze, 11 x 25 x 5" 

Exhibition Dates: April 9 - 30, 2017

Autry Museum of the American West
4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Unexpected at 'The Early Years' Opening

The night was magical and the weather perfect for a grand evening with our friends and art enthusiasts at the Harbor History Museum. Folks turned out in numbers to stand in front of Mardie Rees’ sculptures themed on the ‘Early Years’ of our lives. We enjoyed a glass of wine and talked until sundown of the joys, trials, and tribulations of parenting.

We also listened intently as Mardie spoke of her inspiration, and of her ever-present attempts to balance her work and life as a mother. As we listened, something happened we weren’t expecting. Here’s what she said:


"This show, ‘The Early Years’, is personal… but it’s not just personal to me. Like any showing of art – it’s personal to you. You personally have experiences and memories that can stir up a dose of nostalgia. Here now you have a chance to stand in front of an object of art and hold on to one of those memories. But before you do that I am going to give you a lens. So everyone close your eyes for a moment..."

"...Picture yourself drifting back in time. Images of your recent past go floating by as you turn back the pages of your life that led to this very spot. You pass through pages of happiness that have been recalled so much they are dog-eared. You pass through pages of sorrows - pages that contain pain but are framed with gratitude that you survived and are wiser for it. The pages speed up as you realize just how many pages that you have in this book and how many of them you have forgotten about. Now the pages begin to slow. They are turning one at a time, revealing images of what it was like in your childhood. Tree-forts and pirate ships, bathing suits and ice cream cones, tea parties and dress-up clothes. You remember the nervousness of your first sleepover and the thrill of running down that grassy hill at breakneck speed. These pages are yours to keep, and the more that you stir these memories and let them rest on your heart for a moment or two, the more at peace you’ll feel about life in the here and now."

I don't know about you, but for me hearing those words was like drinking a cool glass of water. For a moment I was transported to a time where I didn't have a smartphone in my pocket, I had a cool-looking shell that I plucked off the beach; a time where I wasn't paying bills - I was paying attention to the little girl that lived across the street. As I get older, I find that I could use more moments like those in my life, and I bet you a drippy ice cream cone that you agree.

The Colonel John W. Thomason, Jr. Award

Triangle, VA – Our military is not generally seen as being a proponent of the arts, but the 35 year-old Marine Corps Heritage Foundation recognizes it as a powerful way to preserve and promote Marine Corps history. This year, the foundation hosted over 400 ranking officials and special guests at its annual awards recognizing artworks that embody this goal. One of the highlights of the night was the presentation of the Colonel John W. Thomason, Jr. Award to professional artist Mardie Rees for her sculpture 'Soul of the Forward and Faithful.' The award is given each year to an individual artist for a distinguished work depicting some aspect of Marine Corps life. The nod also marks the third award Rees’ Marine sculpture has garnered.

"It is such an honor to be recognized for something that I created," says Rees. "The truth is that this artwork is for the Marines. It's a way of remembering the sacrifices of our fathers and grandfathers who fought in World War II."

The sculpture honors the legacy of America’s first elite fighting force and was commissioned by the U.S. Marine Raider Foundation. Rees spent two years depicting a Browning Automatic Rifleman, a War Dog Handler with his German Shepherd and a Navajo Code Talker. Including its terrain and jungle backdrop, the bronze artwork measures about 4 feet by 3 feet. After completion, it was exhibited to crowds at the Tacoma Art Museum, then the San Diego Air and Space Museum in California. 

In December 2014, the sculpture was ceremoniously entrusted for life to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va. However, recent expansion plans saw the sculpture move to a perhaps more fitting location: the Pentagon. It now resides inside the office of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller. After her award presentation, Rees had a chance to meet the man who took personal interest in her artwork.

"It was fulfilling to share with the General details about my work,” says Rees."I told him that two of the models that posed were Marine veterans, both having served two tours in Iraq, and the Code Talker model was full-blooded Navajo.”

Rees reflects now on the impact that the sculpture has had on her new friends in the Marine Corps, and looks forward to the next opportunity.

“Figure sculpture truly is a universal language,” she says. “When we experience it, we can identify with it. It touches our souls.”

-Photo credit Staff Sgt Gabriela Garcia