Tanner is from wide open western Nebraska. She grew up surrounded by horses and wildlife. She worked as a scientific illustrator for both the Nebraska State Museum and the University of Kansas Natural History Museum. In 1999, she was given the job of repairing and restoring a badly vandalized limestone sculpture, a 9-foot tall local monument. She cleaned off the blue spray paint, found matching stone to repair many broken parts, and carved a replacement arm and face. The sculpture now stands proudly on the county courthouse lawn. Through this experience of repairing limestone, she discovered her love of stone carving.
She says, "For me, stone is the most rewarding and satisfying material to make shapes with, although I work with wood also. I love the carving process, actually doing the work. Part of the joy of working with stone is the interaction with it, paying attention to what it has to say. Carving is a little like solving a puzzle of sorts, searching out a form and idea that will fit into the rough, given original piece. I find great joy in following the forms as I am carving with the hammer and chisels and creating beautiful shapes. And every enjoys the natural beauty of finished and polished stone. Stone has such strong integrity and honesty as a material."
With a background in illustration, Tanner’s form are anatomically structured, but she searches for forms within that anatomy that will, first of all, make interesting sculpture, and will also bring out the beauty of the stone.