On the darkest day of Karen’s life, God gave her a rainbow. This real and unmistakable reminder of His presence ushered in her lifelong love affair with the sky.
Karen had just left the doctor’s office, blinded with tears, driving home to her new reality. An advanced cancer diagnosis coupled with no conventional way to treat it left Karen in the pit of despair. How could this be happening to a 33 year old newlywed with a young child to raise? But in one brief moment in a quick glance up at the sky, Karen saw something pierce the darkness and provide a spectacular reminder of hope.
As an artist, Karen feels very humbled by God’s handiwork. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” In her art, Karen seeks to do justice to the beauty of nature but often feels intimidated by the perfection of it knowing that artists since the beginning of time have attempted to capture it. So she looks up and asks herself, what is the sky doing today?
While many gravitate to the beauty of a sapphire blue sky, Karen loves the beauty of the mixed bag of light that accompanies the clouds. While the picture perfect blue skies appeal to some, Karen knows the truth is in the clouds. Life is hard, filled with pain and struggles, but in between the clouds, where the light peeks in, hope is found. Karen seeks to have her art plant a seed of hope. Her fascination with the sky, has led to a body of work inspired by the colors of a sunrise, the beauty of creation and the hope for another day.
In the midst of the battle with cancer, Karen began to study art and photography in a community setting in Washington, Dc and quickly progressed to a traditional art school setting. During her illness, she studied photography and media design. She quickly became a successful photographer, highly sought after for her artistic approach to children. But it was her move down south nearly ten years ago, and pink skies of the Low Country of South Carolina that proved to be the best inspiration. Karen is an acrylic painter and this desire to paint was born out of the idea that the camera fails to capture what her heart sees.
And her heart sees hope.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
A little more about Karen Velasquez...
Karen was on a beach in Santorini Greece applying sunscreen to her face when she discovered a lump on her jaw. She returned home to a diagnosis of stage 4 very advanced cancer and given six months to live.
That was twenty years ago.
Karen spent nearly 22 weeks in the hospital undergoing a clinical trial that nearly killed her, she has had 15 operations, the first of which removed the lower part of her face and began the process of reconstructing it due to a large tumor, seven times the cancer has returned. But each time the cancer has returned, and each time she was once again a weak struggling cancer patient, God did something truly amazing. He placed people in her path, people who sometimes share her hospital room, people who need to hear the hope filled message of Jesus Christ.
This message of hope has become a powerful platform for public speaking and media appearances. Karen’s story has been featured on Dateline, Nightline, The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, The Dr. Phil Show, PBS and numerous national and local print media outlets. Karen is a regular keynote speaker at women’s events, pharmaceutical conventions and any event where people need a bit of inspiration. She has become a symbol of hope for those who need to place eyes on someone who has survived a brutal battle with cancer. Karen believes that hope is the most powerful drug of all, and she remains grateful to God for the blessing of her continued life.