Contemporary Primitive Artist
African American Artist
Art Brut Artist
Exo Political Artist
Folk / Pop Artist
Inventor, ALNUGE (STEM) Curriculum
Founder, Self-Empowerment Through Self-Expression (SETSE)
BrainStorm Headgear ~ Founder & Designer
Founder, South River Arts Alliance
“We are all artists at birth. Many of us are taught otherwise, when our creativity is stunted and not nurtured by our family. Art is my journey to freedom. I love the powerful healing qualities of art and the way it embraces and joins people across the planet like global glue. Art nurtures children to grow into creative, productive, well-adjusted adults and grows adults into innocent children with uncharted imaginations."
“I love the versatility allowed me by acrylic paint. I use it the same as I would water color, ink, or oil. Releasing my attachment to outcome frees me, in general. It also frees me to present you with honest artistic offerings. There are no boundaries unless we set them. Living outside of the comfort zone is not for the faint of heart. However, the results are delightfully rewarding. I give thanks to my ancestors… the brave souls who have gone before me.”
~ Cleaster Cotton 2013
Contemporary Primitive Artist / Outsider Artist
Exo Political Artist / Pop Artist
Arts Educator / Teaching Artist
Culinary Artist / Literary Artist
Inventor ~ ALNUGE (Alphabets Numbers Geometrics) STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) Curriculum
Founder ~ SETSE (Self-Empowerment Through Self-Expression)
Founder ~ South River Arts Alliance
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'Cleaster Cotton is a dynamic and visionary artist.’
Randy Shull & Hedy Fischer, Artists, Entrepreneurs, Activists, Owners
Pink Dog Creative,
Asheville, North Carolina USA (2011)
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'Cleaster, you continue to amaze me with every color, texture and brush stroke. Extremely impressive series! Continued success!'
Curtis E. James, President
New York City, USA (2013)
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'Cleaster Cotton is the Leonarda of our times - her versatility is almost unfathomable. As a painter of contemporary primitive art, her exuberant colors and sly wit make you glad to be alive. Her black and white photographs have a majesty, power and precision that remind you of the Art Deco era. Cleaster Cotton is an American treasure. See her work and rejoice.’
Bobbie Kaplan, Award-winning Executive Creative Director
New York City, USA (2011)
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‘Asheville's Cleaster Cotton has a new gallery within the gallery of AnTHM Town Arts in downtown Black Mountain. This amazingly talented self-taught artist, I'd swear, was passed the baton of talent straight from the hand of Jean Dubuffet, founder of Art Brut, with her unique though similar painting style, use of color, rhythmic technique, powerful symbolism, and storytelling ability. From the Underground Railroad to her series of masked female images, Ms. Cotton's passion is contagious, compels you to take a closer look, to shed a tear, to learn more about plight, then moves you to celebrate--freedom, its many layers, and the vibrancy of choice!’
Cappi MacSherry, Owner ~ AnTHM Galleries of Black Mountain
Black Mountain, NC, USA (2012)
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'Contemporary Primitive; those are two words that make you think when you see them. I tell you they are the words that express the truly gifted and genius of Cleaster Cotton. She is fast becoming known in the art world and is a true Renaissance woman. She is multi-talented, able to do many things extremely well. Her work has movement, soul, emotion, intensity and drama!! It has history, herstory and culture. It tells the story of our ancestors and they speak through her to tell us what we must do today to make ourselves whole again. Cleaster uses collage, mixed media and other forms of art to bring out her message. She is the female Romare Bearden!! I look at Bearden and the work he has done, the movement in his work, the feeling, the textures and collages. I see so many similarities between him and Cleaster, even the Harlem and North Carolina thing. Cleaster lived in Harlem also. We are all definitely from the same seed.'
Peggy Dodson, President and CEO
Urban Broadcasting Company
New York City, USA (2011)
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'Cleaster Cotton's art work is authentic, cultural, and thought-provoking. Cleaster is inspiring and is a role model to young artists, demonstrating to them that self-expression, through art, is a powerful key to freedom. She's dedicated, professional, and innovative in her approach to her work. Her use of materials (both conventional and unconventional) is refreshing and fascinating. I encourage Cleaster and look forward to the advancement and continued success of her career.'
Curtis E. James, President
New York City, USA (2011)
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ABOUT THE ARTIST
Cleaster Cotton is an African American Painter Photographer, and Arts Educator. Born into a very large, close-knit family, Cleaster was lovingly raised by southern parents, in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. She is a mother of two daughters.
Contemporary Primitive / Outsider Artist, Cleaster's approach to art making is honest, unexpected and exciting, with a refreshing use of texture, line, color and tone. Her ability to manipulate conventional and unconventional materials produces an eclectic, fascinating range of artistic renderings and various art forms. She works in several media including mixed media, collage, acrylic paintings, prints, drawings, pen and ink, hand-rendered and computer-graphic illustrations, textile design, installation art, assemblage, photography and sculpture.
Cleaster fell in love with art at age five when she created her first line of greeting cards. During adolescence, exposure to world cultures and travel abroad influenced how Cleaster views and creates art. "I am mainly influenced by the ancestors, the exos, and life experience."
She fell in love with photography the first time she peered down into her grandfather’s camera and discovered the magic of refraction. Her fine art photographic subjects include nature, portraits, architectural, industrial, documentary, still life, social commentary, food, and popular photography. She captures daily occurrences and rarely presented events in nature and society.
At the age of twelve, Cleaster lost her mother and found herself faced with the magnified challenges of surviving the inner-city. She sought out opportunities in education, culture, and arts which, ultimately, insured her survival. As a teen student and leader, Cleaster served her community in the vanguard during shifts in politics, community, education, art and culture, health, and nutrition. She went abroad, on an education research study, along with several teachers and principals from her community in Oceanhill Brownsville/Bedford-Stuyvesant. The team’s goal was to learn the workings of the innovative Open Classroom Education System, bring it back, and implement it here the USA.
“The trip abroad took me out of the neighborhood, away from the daily perils, which claimed the lives of many of my friends and members of my family. It gave me a unique point of view. The journey gave me a fresh outlook and set a new standard for my quality of life. I readily adopted as the quality of life I deserved and would never settle for less.”
Cleaster was in Brooklyn, New York that Cleaster attended public, middle school, Uhuru Sasa Shule, and ‘Youth in Action’ summer arts-in-education sessions at Pratt Institute and Long Island University. She attended The High School of Fashion Industries, Interboro Institute Business School, and Fordham University in New York City. During an extended externship with the Primal Art Center (New York City,) Cleaster traveled to Africa, Europe, and various islands in the Caribbean as an art buyer, learning the people, folklore, culture, art, and nature. Cleaster attended San Diego City College in California.
As a Teaching Artist and Arts-In-Education Consultant, Cleaster has served the Westchester Arts Council, Georgia Council of the Arts, Museum Design of Atlanta, High Museum of Art, University North Carolina Asheville, Asheville City Schools Foundation, and various Boards of Education. Cleaster has taught thousands of children and has facilitated art-based professional development workshops for hundreds of teachers and community professionals. She is a naturalist, activist, an advanced open-water scuba diver, organic gardener, martial artist, and certified culinary artist. She is a Cultural Conservationist who treasures spending quality time with family and friends. She enjoys the theatre, travelling, film, hiking, sailing, exploring, and laughter. Cleaster Cotton is loved and loving.
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EXHIBITS / COMMISSIONS
• The Gallery @ Studio 375 Depot (River Arts District, Asheville, NC ~ 2012-2013) (exhibited artist)
• CityMac CityMug (Asheville, NC ~ 2012) (First Exo Political Artist’s World Premier - Signs & Symbols Art Exhibit)
• Desert Moon Designs Studios Gallery (River Arts District, Asheville, NC ~ 2012) (featured photographer)
• AnTHM Gallery (Downtown, Black Mountain, NC ~ 2012) (featured artist at Monte Vista Hotel))
• Gourmet Chip Company (Downtown, Asheville, NC ~ 2011) (solo art exhibit)
• Dr. Paul Saenger and Cherry Lentz Saenger (Asheville, NC ~ 2011) (commission, painting)
• Pink Dog Creative Studios (River Arts District, Asheville, NC ~ 2011) (gallery’s premier featured artist)
• Pink Dog Creative Studios (River Arts District, Asheville, NC ~ 2010) (designer, Cleaster Cotton Wearable Art)
• Fit To Be Goddess (Norfolk, VA ~ 2009) (commission, photography)
• The Norton Family (Atlanta, GA ~ 2008) (commission, painting)
• The Seen Gallery (Decatur, GA ~ 2007) (exhibited photographer)
• Planet of the Grapes, Arts Hop exhibit and sale (Dalton, GA ~ 2007) (solo fine art photography exhibit)
• Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) City of Neighborhoods (Beltline Project) Grady High School Design Emphasis/Communication Magnet Students (Atlanta, GA ~ 2007) (photojournalist and archivist)
• Art Pavilions (Snellville, GA ~ since 2006) (featured and resident artist and photographer)
• Motique Gallery (Brooklyn, NY ~ since 2005) (featured artist)
• The Brooklyn Five Reunion (Brooklyn, NY ~ 2005) (commission)
• Urban Broadcasting Company (Harlem, New York ~ 2004 - 2011) (creative consultant & commissioned art)
• African GalleriA™ (Lithonia, GA ~ 2004) (“Black Folk Casting Color” ~ featured artist)
• UBC Sports (various venues ~ 2003) (photographer)
• The Arts Exchange Open Studios 2002 (White Plains, NY, 2002) (walk-thru installation exhibit of photography, multi-medium, and literary art – based on the events of September 11th)
• Mariandale Retreat & Conference Center (Ossining, NY, September, 2002) (featured artist ~ multi-medium and literary art exhibit and poetry performance– based on the events of September 11th)
• Mount Vernon Public Library (Mt. Vernon, NY ~ April, 2002) (featured artist ~ multi-medium, and literary art – based on the events of September 11th)
• SEPTEMBER ELEVENTH: A CATHARSIS (“SE:AC”) (New York ~ 2001) (photojournalist, writer, and poet - documentation of life after the events of 9/11, Ground Zero, and lower Manhattan, New York via fine art photographs and short poems)
• Mount Vernon Public Library (Mt. Vernon, NY ~ 2000) (featured artist ~ SETSE multi-medium exhibit)
• Women In The Arts: Chapter I (Mayor’s Exhibit, City Hall, Mt. Vernon, NY ~ 2000) (exhibited artist)
Cleaster is affiliated with Teaching Artists Presenting in Asheville Schools (TAPAS) (Certified Teaching Artist;) University North Carolina Asheville (UNCA) (Instructor, Super Saturdays ~ Art Lab 4 Super Kids;) LEAF in Schools and Streets (Board Member 2012;) South River Arts Alliance (Founder;) Pink Dog Creative (Photojournalist / Solo Exhibiting Artist;) The Seen Gallery (Photographer, Artist;) The Atlanta Voice (Freelance Photographer;) Museum of Design Atlanta (Teaching Artist, Photographer;) Georgia Council for the Arts (Roster, Touring Teaching Artist;) Fulton County School Arts Program (Roster Artist;) Urban Broadcasting Company (UBC-TV) (Television Programming & Development Consultant;) UBC Sports (Freelance Photographer;) African GalleriA™ (Exhibiting Artist;) Monifa Designs Collective (Sr. Director, Literary Arts;) Health Entertainment Resources ("HER") (Co-Producer;) SunStar Community, Inc. (Co-Founder;) SETSE™ (Founder;) Primal Blends Global (Founder.)
Cleaster is Founder of SETSE™ (Self-Empowerment Through Self-Expression,) a creative-based academic curriculum and learning technique which serves children K-12. SETSE was started in 1975. SETSE also serves as a professional development tool for educators. Cleaster became a (K-12) Teaching Artist in 1998. In 2002, Cleaster invented ALNUGE™ (Alphabets, Numbers, Geometrics) (curriculum and visual language in support of the White House's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education initiative. In 2012, Cleaster was included, as the inventor of ALNUGE, on the Major Inventors & Scientists Collectible Poster.
She is Founder of South River Arts Alliance which fosters arts and culture, self-expression, and self-esteem to underprivileged children in Asheville, NC. She is an Arts-in-Education (AIE) Creative Communications Specialist and Arts-in-Education Workshop Facilitator.
Communities in Schools, Gaston, NC, "5 Basics for Success Poster Project" (Art Director, Photographer, Poster Layout;) Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) “City of Neighborhoods” Beltline Project (Photojournalist - Atlanta, GA, 2007;) Second Annual Empire State Partnership Project Arts in Education Conference, Sarah Lawrence College, NY (Participant.)
Cleaster appeared on World Beat (Time Warner Cable Television); performed at Williamsburgh Music Center (Brooklyn, NY) Barnes & Noble Booksellers (New York, NY); performed in spoken word poetry group, ‘The Dozens’ (United States and abroad); special guest on WVOX Radio ~ Live on the Air with Roberta Apuzzo, NYU Community Radio and City University Community Radio; serves as Special Consultant on Teen Pregnancy to the Board of Education in Westchester, New York and was featured on a nationally-televised special 'Generation at Risk.'
A published writer, poet, freelance columnist, and consultant, Cleaster’s writing credits include Home Box Office (HBO) (weekly sex and relationships advice columnist); OppoCity, an original play for children (writer, director, producer and director); The Dozens "Step Off" Performance book (self-publisher, co-author, performance director, producer); Songs In The Key Of Klee (Volumes 1-3) (lyricist); Authentic Hair" by Ademola Mandella, photography and poetry book of natural hair (contributing poet.)
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ARTIST'S CONTACT INFORMATION
P.O. Box 7313
Asheville, NC 28802-7313
(828) 367-7708 ~ Phone
http://about.me/cleastercotton ~ Website
http://cleaster-cotton.artistwebsites.com ~ Fine Arts America Artist’s Gallery Website
http://cleastercotton.blogspot.com ~ Artist's Blog
http://setsearts.blogspot.com ~ SETSE (Self-Empowerment Through Self-Expression) Arts Programs for Children (K-12) in the Community and in Schools
http://alnuge.com/ ~ ALNUGE (Alphabets Numbers Geometrics) (ALNUGE is in line with the White Houses’ S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) Education Initiative
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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: © 2011, 2012, 2013 Cleaster Cotton. These images do not belong to the public domain. All images (paintings, photographs, and graphic designs) are registered. All rights are reserved and are the exclusive property of Cleaster Cotton. No images may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of Cleaster Cotton. The purchase of any print does not transfer reproduction rights.
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