The Art of Giving Back
Kerri Warner uses her artistic skills to help local nonprofits
By Jessica Laskey
Kerri Warner’s website describes her as a mixed-media artist, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Warner is indeed a celebrated mixed-media artist known for collage, sculpture, mosaic and portraiture, but she’s also a deeply devoted community member who has held leadership positions at nonprofits such as Sacramento Ballet, HandsOn Sacramento and the California Conservation Corps Foundation. And she’s donated her artistic skills to dozens of community projects.
“I had never thought of using my art to give back to the community,” says Warner. “I really credit Michael Smith at Teichert for connecting those dots and opening the door for me.”
Warner met Smith during her year with Leadership Sacramento, a program of the Sacramento Metro Chamber that develops business and civic leaders
through monthly classes and community service projects. Smith initially asked for Warner’s artistic help on a volunteer project for River City Food Bank & Family Services, which was being rebuilt after a devastating fire. Warner created sculptures, refinished chairs and decorated the new lobby with portraits of Food Bank clients for her “Faces of Hunger” series. The originals were auctioned off to raise funds for the facility, and copies now adorn the lobby walls to make the space more inviting.
“It was great to be able to work with the clients directly to hear how they wanted to present themselves,” Warner says.
Since the Food Bank project in 2011, the Natomas resident has crafted artwork for 916 Ink’s The Imaginarium, Plates Cafe, the Roberts Family Development Center and more. She’s also designed logos for NorCal Services for Deaf & Hard of Hearing and a popular UK blog and Facebook group called Can I Breastfeed In It?
“All of these diverse projects give me the opportunity to learn something new,” says Warner, who got her start volunteering for Children’s Receiving Home as a teen and building sets, props and costumes for a community theater founded by her father and grandfather. “If someone says can you build a fence?, I say I don’t know and then figure out how to do it. Luckily, my husband has a lot of tools.”
Warner credits her work with the Metro Chamber for introducing her to so many interesting organizations.
“They do a great job of connecting the business community with nonprofits,” Warner says. “I get exposure to all of these groups doing wonderful things, and I get to help in my own way. I’m a firm believer in the idea that a little is enough if enough people do it.”
For more information on the programs of the Metro Chamber, visit metrochamber.org. To see Warner’s work, visit kerriwarner.com.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.