This week we will be talking to Scottish artist and painter Karis Yves Knight, discussing her project V.O.W and how it is providing women with a voice to express themselves.
Image description: an interior shot of a studio with 6 portrait paintings propped against the wall. The artist sits in the centre smiling with arms outspread gesturing at the paintings. The centre reads KYK designs, underneath in smaller white text reads @karis Yves knight.
Can you give us a description of yourself and the kind of artwork you make?
My name is Karis Yves Knight and I am an artist based in the heart of bonnie Scotland. Through my artwork, I want to bring a little more good to this world. Through my project The V.O.W (The Voice of Women), I am aiming to introduce women to their fellow human women on this planet. I have realised through my 24 years through my own experiences on this spherical globe that there was/and still is, so much I didn’t understand about what other women are experiencing and have experienced. It is time to introduce ourselves to each other.
What drew you to a practice in painting?
My idea began during my third year studying Occupational Therapy in Glasgow. As it was 2020, in the midst of Covid, as I am sure you can imagine this placement was not an easy experience. It made me reflect majorly on my practice. I love humans! I found when working in this role I was not able to engage with people in the way I wanted to, and give them the time they deserved. As I said, this was in the middle of Covid lockdown which had a lot to do with this rush in the hospital at the time. Yet, I just didn’t feel I could still be myself with these humans. The relationship between a therapist and a patient is always going to come with barriers. This all leads to a very special idea. The V.O.W.
KYK Designs, Victory Chikwadoro - Purpose, acrylic on canvas, 2020.
Image description: a portrait painting with rich brown and yellow tones. The face above the eyes is obscured by swirling orange and yellow patterns and circles.
With everything I had learned at university, I realised how amazing and multifaceted we are as humans. This made me reflect on myself, as a woman in this world. I have been so lucky to have grown in a place of rich opportunities. At times I feel guilty about this when there are so many others without. This is why, I need to use my voice to empower others just like me, a woman of the world. It is for this reason that I am so passionate about helping others grow with every inch that I do.
What themes and concepts do you hope to portray in your work? Each painting is named after the subject woman. Highlighting these incredible women’s individuality and our interconnectedness via the choice of a word, that they feel represents their story and context in view of the pieces.
The idea is to empower and inspire other women who have been through similar or parallel experiences so can relate to each other or indeed feel inspired by their stories. In return joining us all in a unique and personal way through the profound shared experiences of womanhood. Moreover, each woman has chosen a cause to donate 25% of the proceeds earned from their painting and prints, that they feel resonates with or has supported them through their journey.
Many of your paintings depict female portraits. What is it about the face that interests you?
The paintings highlight where women's values truly lie within our honest inner beings, expressed beyond the focus which is so often projected onto our outer objectified physical sexual bodies and appearances.
The mouth is used to allow an identification with the woman’s outer body highlighting the power of our voices to express who we truly are.
KYK Designs, Jax- Love, acrylic on canvas, 2020.
Image description: a portrait painting depicting a black and white face with a rich red for the lips. Above the eyes is obscured by a clutter or imagery such as film reels, TVs and groups of people.
What is your process for creating your artwork?
I start by interviewing the women to find out all of the things that bring value to them on the inside. Sometimes I read the story first other times I don’t. Then as I start painting I incorporate all of the images and ideas that the woman has explored with me to create the final piece. I usually start by drawing and painting out the face then adding the background colour. I finish of by adding the layers and all of the things that bring them women joy.
Are there any artists or research that underpins your practice?
I don’t really follow any artists to underpin my own art. However I had faith and began to trust in my art by seeing the success that Sophie Tea Art has done with hers.
KYK Designs, Jyoti- Light, acrylic on canvas, 2020.
Image description: a portrait painting with rich brown and yellow tones. The face above the eyes is obscured by vibrant purple, orange and yellow swirling patterns, palm trees and a skyscape.
What one thing would you like to change about the art industry today?
I would love to show how the process of making art can become part of the art itself. For instance, the paint you see on each painting is not where the art stops. The art goes above and beyond with the whole process of the V.O.W Project. Each conversation I have with each woman creates a powerful and emotional bond which I feel comes through in the art. The connections I have with each charity as well allows me to to give back to others. It is the art of the human experience not just paint on a canvas.
With the sudden impact of COVID-19 has your practice had to adapt or change to the new circumstances?
Not really as I started during Covid. It is preventing me from traveling how I would like to, to meet women around the world globally and meeting women face to face to interview them. So part from that I just work with what I have I front of me.
KYK Designs, Carole - Survival, acrylic on canvas, 2020.
Image description: a portrait painting with rich brown and yellow tones with black braided hair. The face above the eyes is obscured by swirling orange and blue shapes as well as a windmill, record player and the black lives matter symbol.
Your portraits involve many abstract elements that disrupt the features, specifically the eyes of the subject. Can you explain your choice of doing this?
The main idea is to capture the women’s soul and energy. Which goes far beyond our outer bodies. The images are all things that the woman has described as bringing her joy and represent different aspects of their life.
A message from the artist. Original artwork and Limited Edition Prints will be presented along with the subject woman’s profoundly personal handwritten story and a certificate to confirm donations. With this process, the hope is to provide a thought provoking perspective and inspirational emotional bond between the buyer and the named woman. The V.O.W community meaningfully grows through this project with each sale and more importantly with every woman who joins to empower the tribe. Allowing us all to celebrate the wonder of women! Therefore in essence the V.O.W is about reconnecting us all. This is more crucial than ever now, in some ways, especially after this hugely intense, emotional, and testing period of separation, doubt, and anxiousness due to COVID.
If you are interested in being featured as an Artist of the Week you can fill out a short application form here.