This metal mama has found a field of her own
She’s known most widely for being the wife of retired NFL star and beloved Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, but since turning 50 in 2017, Brenda Warner is firing up a new moniker: metal artist. It’s yet another evolution for the former Marine and nurse, mom to seven, published author, philanthropist and now grandmother to two. Behind one of the many garage doors of their North Scottsdale home, Warner has built a studio where she operates MetalArt by B.
Filled with junk metal, welding equipment, saws, drills and a blowtorch, the former footballer’s wife has found a field of her own.
After so many challenges, including caring for a child (now grown) with disabilities and dealing with the death of your parents at age 28, how did you wind up melting metal?
Now that I can look back, I can see how my life brought me here. I’m from a small town in Iowa, and my father worked for John Deere… He was a real hard worker, steel-toed boots, coming home dirty… I’m sure he knew how to weld. And my mom sewed and taught me how to quilt. I see making metal art as an extension of that. I’m just sewing with fire, bending scraps into beautiful works of art.
But I think the turning point was at age 50. My mom [and dad] was killed in a tornado at that age, and I started to wonder how much of life she was robbed of. I wanted to take on 50 like my mom would have told me to.
From the First Things First foundation to the new Treasure House, you and Kurt have been huge supporters of community. How did you merge your solitary art with your love of community?
Our home got too full of my art. I had to share it… Plus, it was stressful to build Treasure House [a home for young adults with disabilities] and think of how much we still owe on it. So I was able to make something positive come out of this, even if it’s just a little help. I was able to turn two passions into one.
In a recent tweet, you stated: “Surrounded by metal is the best place to be right now.” Why is that?
When I step into the shop, I feel more like myself than I did in the first 50 years of my life. I feel like I was created to do this… I lose track of time there. It’s a safe place for me.
Your Embrace Collection is very sweet. Is that about your love story with Kurt?
The first thing I ever made is a [sculpture of a] couple out of a little bitty hook. I keep it in the family room as a reminder that I was able to do it and then give it to Kurt. I was able to risk that vulnerability. He loved it. That’s where all the couple sculptures come from.
If art is a form of expression, what’s the message you’re trying to communicate with yours?
It’s never too late to try something you’ve never had the courage to before. Even if you fail, it’s never too late to try.
After your November trunk show, what’s next for MetalArt by B?
I want to see the larger pieces in a gallery… Kurt and I were in New York last year walking around, looking in gallery windows, and I asked him, “Do you ever think you’ll see my stuff in a gallery like that?” He said to me, “Absolutely.” I like dreaming that big.