My Essentials: Clarissa Knighten

Clarissa Knighten: Artist, jewelry designer and innovator. Photo by Corie English

Since 2007, Clarissa Knighten has been highlighting the best features of Kansas Citians and others with her jewelry designs, which can be seen on runways and galleries in and out of Kansas City. “I am a Black, female, jewelry designer who wants everyone to be able to wear or own a piece of art,” she says. “My art draws others to you. It’s your window of opportunity to have a dialogue with someone you have known for a long time or are meeting for the first time. God directs my designs. Be great today! Someone needs what you have to offer.” Knighten founded Rissa’s Artistic Design 15 years ago as a way to navigate clinical depression and an eating disorder. She uses her jewelry art designs to help others understand they can use life’s challenges to do something positive and impactful, as well as to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness in Kansas City communities and beyond. “In my opinion, Kansas City is really the gateway to the west—not St. Louis. Kansas City has a culture with an incredible imagination. Plus, we’re centrally located in the U.S., making it easy for day trips or weekend getaways!”

Clarissa’s essentials…

Dress to Impress: When I want to stand out on the runway, I call Sharon Miller, owner of The Gown Gallery. I trust Sharon’s 30-plus years of experience. In 2019, I wore a yellow and beige dress, and that dress was worn on a day that changed my artistic path.

Credit Card Damage: One day I walked into Swanky! Interior Design Gallery at 34th and Main and saw an orange Italian leather sofa! Where else in KC can you find high-quality, unique home furnishings?

Clear the Head: On any given day along the Line Creek Trail, you will see walkers, runners, cyclists, and families—everyone is making memories. The Northland is filled with beautiful trails that allow me to connect with my inner spirit.

Self-Care Sesh: When my body aches, I enjoy the infrared sauna at Hand & Land Shop and Spa on Gillham—you can even purchase package deals. I also love their long-handled bath brushes, and their gift certificates are a great gift for others to experience something new!

Hidden Gem: InterUrban ArtHouse is a haven for artists in every medium. It is a pivotal intersection in the arts community. The atmosphere of the space is one in which artists can collaborate and grow in their practices. 

Brunch Time: I head to The Phoenix, where I can listen to KC’s local jazz favorites on Sunday, along with a Crab Cake Florentine Benny.

Weekend Getaway: The paved, beautiful, scenic bike trails took precedence the first time I visited Bentonville, Arkansas. After that, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art!

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