GCU Occupational therapy student shares women’s life stories through art

A GCU student is giving women across the world the opportunity to have their voices heard through her paintings.

Entrepreneur, artist and final year Occupational Therapy student Karis Knight has made the most of her time in lockdown – launching The V.O.W project.

This art project aims to share an individual’s story through paintings that Karis has created, pieced together by elements of the person’s life that Karis feels passionate about sharing with the world.

Founder of KYK Designs Karis explained her motivation behind The V.O.W:

“The idea is that it’s my vow to give women the opportunity to share their story.

We don’t take the time – but also, it’s awkward to ask someone their story because nobody wants to sit and chat to you for an hour about themselves.

I believe every single woman has a story to tell and every single one I have painted so far has told me they don’t – and when it’s come to writing their story on the website along with the painting, some of them have brought me to tears.”

She added; “I’ve done this with some of my friend and realised they’ve had bulimia the whole time we’ve been growing up. I think at a younger age if you’ve not experienced something, you don’t realise what other people are going through.”

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement, Karis’ passion for equality amongst humans motivated her to give people the chance to have their voices heard no matter where they are from or their circumstances.

She said:

“I’ve been talking to people who are homeless, people who have got no money, people that are viewed as being from a high social class.

In my next launch I’m actually doing a painting of Keegan Connor Tracy who is a Hollywood actress who contacted me through my page.

I’ll also be doing one for Elaine C. Smith – all this sounds impressive but at the end of the day she is just women, she’s just like me. She’s got a story about her life and her story is just as important as someone who isn’t in the public eye. She’s just a person like everyone else.”

Studying in the occupational therapy field alongside creating art has also given Karis a hopeful perspective to create a space where people can get support through each other and her artwork.

She explained:

“I’d love to have a studio where I’m allowing women to come and have therapy for free and just a safe space where I’m actually painting there too and there’s women coming and going like a community.

I like the idea that one day when I have an art exhibition, every woman I have painted in that room will be there and each is just as important as the other – from the celebrities to the person who has come through homelessness.”

The paintings Karis has created so far have been deemed ‘beautiful’ and ‘stunning’ by family, friends and social media fans. However, Karis explained the dark and less pleasant stories that actually helped her create the intricacies of each piece.

She said:

“We see beauty in every other human being but we don’t see beauty in ourselves.

We look at these paintings and think they’re so beautiful but I’m trying to make people look behind the painting and look at what the woman has been through to make her that beautiful.

I didn’t even plan that but that is the message I want to portray – we’re all beautiful because of the struggles we’ve been through.”

As well as sharing real life stories through her paintings, Karis will also be raising funds for different charities through the sale of each painting.

She explained:

“Each woman I paint chooses a charity that has or could have helped them through their journey.

I thought if I included charities in this project, that means that the women can give back to people and then it’s just this whole circle of giving and supporting to create a community”


Find out more about Karis’ work on her website and Instagram page.

Article extract from Student News


GCU – BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy:

  • Year 1
    Scottish Higher: Standard entry requirement: BBBC (incl English/essay-based subject) Nat 5: C (Maths)

        A level: BCC GCSE: C/4 (English and Maths)


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