In this recording hear Clarissa along with two other Slideshow women, Sabrina Dorsainvil and Audrey Robert-Ramirez talk with artist Elisa H. Hamilton about the experience of documenting their lives, creating the slide talks, being vulnerable, and helping to create a piece of public art.
Clarissa Lynn Robertson (Rissa), was born and raised in Montreal, Canada and came to Boston for undergraduate and graduate studies. She is first generation North American and her parents are from the Caribbean. Rissa’s passion lies in telling stories of strength, precaution, resilience, celebration, and growth through her Afrocentric handcrafted jewelry, accessories, and apparel for her online store AndHerStory. Rissa has worked in various chemistry and microbiology laboratory settings and is currently a Validation Engineer in Cambridge, MA. Her goal is to grow her business to where she can not only sell her culturally inspired art to a wider clientele base, but also fully contribute her time and resources to causes that spread love, peace, equality, and joy.
What are the words you live by?
Do it for the story. Which is fitting, because my shop's name is AndHerStory. I live by this because I believe every experience (good and bad) is an opportunity for learning and for memories - which translates into growth. I think this applies on both the personal and global/cultural level. Take risks, take chances. Be responsible, of course. But actions you take today WILL impact the person you grow into and the world the next generation will live in tomorrow. It might as well be an exciting thriller of a tale, no?
The person who knows me best is...
My husband Martin. We were best friends in college (what friend zone?) and we've seen each other at our best and worst. We share a lot of our thoughts as we grow, and we're real with each other even when it hurts. We fight passionately and make amends completely. We are different in many ways, and we give each other room to be authentic. We push each other to be better. It might be corny or mushy, but I guess that means we're still best friends.
I am drawn to art that makes me feel...
Uncomfortable. Of course, I love looking at peaceful, creative, beautiful, and easy going art as well. But when art strikes me in "some type of way" it draws me in and makes me want to learn, and change, and share the growth opportunity with others.
I am interested in stories about...
My ancestors. A lot of what I read has to do with the African Diaspora. And I think that's important for me because growing up I wasn't taught that piece of history in school in any contextual or complete way. I learned about wars and the big political players. But MY story was summarized and generalized in a chapter or two, and that left me feeling unsettled. So I have a lot of catching up to do, and I'm finding a lot of missing pieces - most of what I read about the Diaspora starts in the 1500s and I'm still trying to trace roots using DNA tests, watching documentaries, reading books and articles, etc. When millions of people are displaced and their stories purposefully erased, it makes this task quite difficult. However, with every missing piece, every realization of the strength it must have taken to get to my generation, I become a little more settled, and a little more sure of who I am.