“A strong woman is one who feels deeply, and loves fiercely. Her tears flow just as abundantly as her laughter. A strong woman is both soft and powerful. She is both practical and spiritual. A strong woman in her essence, a gift to all the world.“ -Source Unknown
As I write this, I struggle to find the words to introduce Kerri in a way that does her justice. A rush of words tumbled through my mind: creative, independent, dedicated, empowering, accomplished, unwavering, motivated, entertaining…you get the picture. Kerri is an enigma. You never know what to expect from her, but you can count on anything she presents being nothing short of awe-inspiring. Meet Kerri Lane Mariano.
KR: By way of introduction, how would you describe yourself to someone you have just met?
Hmmm. I would say I’m a goofy, creative and always thinking and imagining ways to improve myself and my surroundings. I’m a big kid at heart. I dance and sing off key in the car, I’m very blunt, I enjoy wine and cigars, I love to cook or try to cook I should say. I’m a protective momma bear of two teenage sons and an almost still newlywed still in ooooey gooey love.
KR: You’re heavily involved with photography, painting, and philanthropy. Describe how you’ve managed to successfully connect the three.
Photography is my business, painting is my passion and philanthropy is my heart. I think the 3 elements just melded naturally together. I was able to combine the photography & painting together to create my own unique art style of mixed media. Adding the philanthropy piece is just adding a piece of my heart to my work. Being able to give back to the community that supports me by donating photo session or art to auction off. I focus my philanthropy to ones that touch me most. Veterans and wounded warriors that protect our soil and freedom I look up to them and its my way of saying Thank you! And children, awww they just melt my heart and bring tears to my eyes at time. So anytime I can help a child with cancer or a child in need I really pull out all the stops and give it my all.
KR: A little over a year ago, you took your painting & photography bi-coastal! You jetted to the West Coast to paint & photograph Crystal Hefner (yes people, THAT Crystal Hefner!) and, a month later, participated in an art show in New York. What were your favorite aspects of each experience?
Wow, that was a surreal experience to say the least. I had just tied the knot in Hawaii in January, March we flew to the Playboy Mansion and then April we were in New York. I defiantly felt a little celebrity-ish with all the traveling.
The West Coast trip to the Playboy Mansion, one of the coolest things I remember was when I first stepped out of the car on the mansion grounds. The sweetest floral smell of possibly jasmine filled the air. As far as the experience, my favorite part was singing Disney songs with Crystal while I painted her. She is a huge Disney fan and we both knew the words to way too many Disney songs for adult women. While I was working my husband was lounging in the grotto pool, taking tours and playing with Hef’s monkeys. Hugh was playing tennis with his buddies and yes he was wearing his captain’s hat and robe.
New York was about 2 weeks later, My art was showcased in the ArtExpo as a Rising Artist. That was a great experience seeing how vast the art world really is and how very diverse. I was paired with an art advisor that worked with Mort Kunstler. It was incredible getting that insider experience and knowledge she taught me. The highlight was defiantly hearing the appraisal of one of my works being priced at $8,000.
KR: You’re Mom to teenage boys. I’ve witnessed how you’ve instilled your philanthropic spirit and compassion in your sons. What words of encouragement would you offer to other parents, seeking to do the same with their children?
Children learn so much just by watching us. Even at a young age they learn just by seeing and being engaged in activities. When my sons were very young, I used to buy ice cream for a Albert, he was a mentally handicap person we would see him at the mall. We would sit and talk with him, he couldn’t verbally communicate but you could tell what he was trying to say with his hand gestures. It shows your children to have a kind and giving heart to everyone. Not to judge people by the way they look or any disabilities they may have. Albert got to know us very well and would yell and gesture for the boys whenever he saw them.
Now that my boys are older I have them join me in helping others. From photo shoots with veterans to tea parties. Yes, my teenage sons help with tea parties for little girls with cancer. They still ask about the girls and how they are doing. A year or so ago, I was working with a paralyzed girl for a photo shoot. I was completely stumped on how to make her able to float in a giant mermaid tail. It was my oldest son who jumped on the chance to help and he designed a floatation device to help her become a mermaid. That photo shoot went viral and around the world in the news and even on People Magazine’s website.
I think having your child work side by side with you in giving back to the community not only teaches them to be kind and have a giving heart, but it also helps them appreciate what they have and not to take it for granted.
KR: Your spirit & passion for life is evident in your daily interactions with friends and family. What drives you?
My car drives me….ahhhahaha Okay I told you I’m a goof. On a serious note, Not to sound cliché, but life is so very short. We don’t know what tomorrow holds so I try to take in each day, enjoy it and be thankful for what I have. Not meaning material things but I do love some new stilettos, just saying. But to enjoy the little moments with my sons, my husband, my family and friends. It’s those little things like the kisses on the forehead when you come home from my husband or the little sticky note he hid in my lunch. The big bear hug from my teenage son, or a phone call from my mom or dad. Its those moments that are really mean the most for me. Those are the cement that bonds the big moments and thrills together. Being able to make my kids smile and help provide them with the right foundation to launch them into their own career paths in the future is what drives me to work hard.
KR: Name someone who has had a tremendous impact on your life and how they have affected you.
My grandmother , I called her my Ga-Ga. Yes she held the title long before Lady Ga-Ga and so much cooler! She really meant so much to me. She had the kindest heart. She never spoke a negative word about anyone. You did not hear her complain or get upset. She had the kindest smile and warmest eyes. I think her kind spirit is something I always admired and I wanted to have that trait show thru the same way she did.
KR: It’s a long weekend and your time is your own. What does Kerri Lane do to unwind?
Ohhhhh Kerri time. That would be a crazy messy and involve paints, lots of paints. I find painting my relaxing go to place. My studio in the basement of our home; It is unfinished concrete walls and floor that are covered in thousands of wildly colored paint splatters. It’s hardly inspirational but is my private spot to release and be creative. Let my energy flow whether I’ve had a bad day and need to release negative energy or I’m feeling empowered, inspired then pure joy comes through in my paintings.
KR: Thank you, again, for taking time to give readers a glimpse of your life! In closing, you’ve had some amazing experiences in the past few years. What’s next for Kerri Lane?
My personal goal is to have my art in galleries across the US. Yes, I dream big. I would love to partner up with local businesses to not only hang my art in their spaces, but to have them set up a silent auction in their locations with a piece of my Home is Where the heart is collection. Just imagine if a handful of business all agreed to silent auction 1 piece of art a month. That’s a lot of money raised for the Evans Home. Current projects- Volunteering with the Evans Home for children. Collecting used digital camera for a photography class and the kids keep the cameras. and that I’m auctioning off art and 100% of the proceeds goes to the Evans Home for Children. For more information, please visit the Evans Home for Children Facebook page.
If you get a chance, to a look at Kerri’s newest fine art series; “Empowered“. Powerful!
*all photos were borrowed from Kerri’s Facebook profile.*
The “Interviews” section of Kendra Relaunched is a spin-off of an interview-only website idea I had a year or so ago. Interview questions are not meant to be typical questions that highlight a career or a laundry list of accomplishments that offer nothing of an individual’s personality. This section is humbly dedicated to individuals that fascinate, inspire and motivate me. It is a privilege to be surrounded by people of such high caliber that I can reach out to for advice, a laugh, or words of encouragement, often, without them even knowing how far reaching their influence is. This section is my way of celebrating those individuals by saying “Thank you.” Tune in, soon, for more interviews.