Key Peninsula artist Mardie Rees adds detail to her recent sculpture, “The Guardian,” a representation of Raphael, an archangel of Judaism, Christianity and Islam who is a healer in the Christian tradition. The sculpture will be installed at the CHI Franciscan Virtual Health Clinic in Tacoma this month. Courtesy Mardie Rees

Mardie Rees is a Purdy sculptor with a long list of commissions, exhibitions and awards honoring her emotive, life-size sculptures made of clay and cast in bronze.

Rees has been a professional sculptor for 17 years. Even as a child, she was encouraged by her creative family to draw, paint, sew and color. When, as a teen, Rees moved with her family to Ecuador for three years to facilitate community development, she broadened her worldview and used the experience as a catalyst for her art.

Known locally for her sculpture, “St. Anthony and Child,” in the main lobby of St. Anthony Hospital, Rees also created the bas-relief sculpture medallion of a fisherman hauling nets at Skansie Brothers Park in downtown Gig Harbor. She’s also created many sculptures for schools, hospitals and private residences around the U.S. and Canada.

In 2014, one of Rees’ sculptures was installed in the National Museum of Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. The work is titled “Soul of the Forward and Faithful,” and depicts three World War II soldiers trekking through enemy territory. It won Rees the Colonel John W. Thomason Jr. Award.

During the unveiling, Rees spoke to the crowd about her process of creating the piece. “I spent two years working on concept, reading, working in clay and overseeing the completion in bronze. I had two former marines who served two tours in Iraq that I came to know as brothers in the process of creating the sculpture. They each modeled about 30 hours for me in a span of six to eight months. As we worked on expression and the face we got into some of the heavy stories of warfare and their experiences. It was a very dark time for me as I witnessed their stories and brought the Battle of Bougainville 1943 into a three dimensional reality,” she said.

Rees lives with her husband, architect Jeremy Broderick, and their children, Jasmine, Adam and Desiree near the Purdy Bridge. Their home is just a few houses down from where she grew up. Inside her airy studio, Rees works with live models, handmade tools and a classical lost wax method for casting her sculptures.

Rees’ busy schedule of installations and unveilings will continue with the unveiling of “The Guardian” at the CHI Franciscan Virtual Health Clinic in Tacoma in September.

Rees teaches art at Gage Academy in Seattle and also offers her expertise to youth of the Key Peninsula through art and sculpture classes in her home studio under the name Apprentice Academy.

“It was something new to try,” said Noah Larsen, 13, about his recently completed summer art camp. “It was cool to use the hands-on tools a lot.”

Sarah Larsen, Noah’s mom, added that sculpting classes with Rees has helped her son feel calm and helped his ability to focus on a task. “She’s phenomenal. It’s really art,” she said.

Rees’ art camps run daily all summer, but she also teaches a variety of art classes once a week after school. She will bring back her popular clay angels class in December. Autumn classes will be posted on her website.

Contact Mardie Rees at mardie@mardierees.com or visit her online at mardierees.com.

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