Fine Art America is the world's most powerful sales and marketing tool for photographers and visual artists.
Simply open an account, upload your images, set your prices for all our available products, and you're instantly in business! FAA provides you with an e-commerce website, fulfills your orders for you, and sends you your profits each month.
'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.' ~ Cleaster Cotton
~ ~ ~
CLEASTER COTTON in the ARTS
Painter / Contemporary Primitive Artist / Outsider Artist / Folk Artist / Exo Political Artist / Pop Artist / Photographer
Inventor / Arts Educator / Teaching Artist / Cultural Conservationist / Literary Artist / Culinary Artist
ALNUGE (Alphabets Numbers Geometrics) ~ Inventor
SETSE (Self-Empowerment Through Self-Expression) ~ Founder
South River Arts Alliance ~ Founder
~ ~ ~
Cleaster Cotton is an African American painter and photographer, who was born into a large, close-knit family and lovingly raised by southern parents, in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. She is a mother of two daughters. Her approach to art making is honest, unexpected and exciting, with a refreshing use of texture, line, color and tone. Cleaster’s 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 paintings, collage, prints, drawings, pen and ink, hand-rendered and computer illustrations, textile design, installation art, assemblage, photography and sculpture.
Cleaster fell in love with art at age five when, inspired by her mother, she created her first line of greeting cards. Exposure to world cultures and travel abroad, during adolescence, influenced how Cleaster views and creates art. She fell in love with photography when she peered down into her grandfather’s camera and discovered the magic of refraction. Her fine art photographic subjects include nature, portraits, architecture, photojournalism, 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 the arts which, ultimately, insured her survival. A precocious teen, student, and leader, Cleaster Cotton served her community and stood in the vanguard, as President of the student body of JHS 271, during one of America's most highly publicized shifts in politics and education... right in the backyard of her Ocean-Hill Brownsville / Bedford-Stuyvesant communities. She represented her office as President and joined a team of educators from her community, and went abroad on an educational research study. The team’s goal was to learn the workings of the innovative Open Classroom Education System, bring it back the USA, and implement it.
“The trip abroad took me out of the neighborhood, away from the daily perils, which claimed the lives of many of my friends and some members of my family. I gained a unique point of view and a fresh outlook on life which set a new standard for the quality of life which I deserved, adopted, and live.” ~ Cleaster Cotton
It was in Brooklyn, New York that Cleaster attended public, middle school, and ‘Youth in Action’ (Arts In Education summer sessions) at Pratt Institute and Long Island University, and Uhuru Sasa Shule. 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 buying art for the collection, learning the people, folklore, culture, art, and nature of the land. Cleaster also attended San Diego City College.
Cleaster Cotton became a professional certified Teaching Artist in 1998. Her service includes the Westchester Arts Council, Georgia Council of the Arts, Museum Design of Atlanta, High Museum of Arts, University of North Carolina Asheville, Asheville City Schools Foundation, LEAF in Schools and Streets, and several Boards of Education. Cleaster has taught thousands of (K-12) children, facilitated professional development workshops for hundreds of teachers and community professionals.
In 2002, Cleaster Cotton invented ALNUGE (Alphabets Numbers Geometrics,) a K-12+ core curriculum and art activity which fosters creativity, academic excellence, innovation, and ingenuity. As inventor of ALNUGE, Cleaster was added to Purpose Publishing’s list of MAJOR INVENTORS & SCIENTISTS and was featured on its collectible poster in 2012.
'When teachers have fun teaching, children have fun learning.” ~ Cleaster Cotton
Cleaster is a naturalist, activist, advanced open-water scuba diver, organic gardener, martial artist, and certified culinary artist. She treasures spending quality time with family and friends, and enjoys the theatre, travelling, dancing, film, food, hiking, sailing, exploring, luxury, and laughter. Cleaster Cotton is loved and loving.
~ ~ ~
EXHIBITS & COMMISSIONS
• Pink Dog Creative (River Arts District, Asheville, NC ~ 2013) (commissioned photographer)
• LEAF (Asheville, NC ~ 2013) (commissioned artist)
• The Gallery @ Studio 375 Depot (River Arts District, Asheville, NC ~ 2012-2013) (exhibited artist)
• CityMac CityMug (Asheville, NC ~ 2012) (World’s First Exo Political Artist’s Premier - Signs & Symbols)
• 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 (River Arts District, Asheville, NC ~ 2011) (gallery’s premier featured artist)
• Pink Dog Creative (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, a Beltline project with Grady High School Design Emphasis/Communication Magnet Students (Atlanta, GA ~ 2007) (photojournalist and archivist)
• High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA ~ 2004) (teaching artist; SETSE workshop facilitator; docent trainer)
• 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, NY ~ 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) (September 11th 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) SETSE (featured artist of multi-medium exhibit)
• Women In The Arts: Chapter I (Mayor’s Exhibit, City Hall, Mt. Vernon, NY ~ 2000) (exhibited artist)
~ ~ ~
ACCOMPLISHMENTS / ACTIVITIES / AFFILIATIONS
Cleaster Cotton is the Inventor of ALNUGE (Alphabets Numbers Geometrics) LEAF in Schools and Streets (Board Member 2012) North Carolina University Asheville (UNCA) (Instructor ~ Super Saturdays Art Lab 4 Super Kids) Teaching Artists Presenting in Asheville Schools (TAPAS) (Certified Teaching Artist) 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 Artist) Fulton County School Arts Program (Roster Artist) Urban Broadcasting Company (UBC-TV) (Television Programming & Development Consultant) Motique Gallery (Featured Artist) UBC Sports (Freelance Photographer) African GalleriA™ (Exhibitor) Monifa Designs Collective (Sr. Director, Literary Arts) Health Entertainment Resources ('HER') (Co-Producer) SunStar Community, Inc. (Co-Founder) Primal Blends Global (Founder) AnTHM Gallery of Black Mountain (Featured Artist) Studio 375 Depot (Featured Artist) LinkedIn (Top 5% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012.)
Cleaster is Founder of SETSE™ (Self-Empowerment Through Self-Expression,) an arts-based academic curriculum and learning technique which serves children K-12. SETSE was started by Cleaster Cotton in Mount Vernon, New York, in 1975, in her living room, when she provided neighborhood children with after school art and academic enrichment activities. SETSE grew and has long served as a professional development tool for educators. Cleaster has been a certified teaching artist since 1998. She is an Arts-in-Education (AIE) Creative Communications Specialist and Arts-in-Education Workshop Facilitator.
As founder of South River Arts Alliance, Cleaster fosters arts, culture, self-expression, and self-esteem to underserved children in Asheville, North Carolina’s south side community.
A published writer, Cleaster is also a poet, freelance columnist, and consultant. Her 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.)
5 Basics for Success Poster Project (Art Director, Photographer, Poster Layout) Communities in Schools, Gaston, NC, 2012 Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) “City of Neighborhoods” Beltline Project (Photojournalist - Atlanta, GA, 2007) Arts in Education, Second Annual Empire State Partnership Project (Participant - Sarah Lawrence College, NY)
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.
~ ~ ~
ARTIST RESIDENCIES, WORKSHOPS & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
William Randolph School (LEAF Teaching Artist - Mask Making & Photography) ~ Asheville, NC (2013) Claxton Elementary School (TAPAS Teaching Artist - ALNUGE) ~ Asheville, NC (2012) William Randolph Learning Center (Teaching Artist - ALNUGE) ~ Asheville, NC (2012) The Safe Haven Project (Art Therapist) ~ Asheville, NC (2011) Super Saturday Spring 2011 and Fall 2010 at University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA) ~ (Art Instructor) ~ Asheville, NC (2011 and 2010) Teaching Artists Presenting in Asheville Schools (TAPAS) Isaac Dickson and Ira B. Jones Elementary Schools ~ (Teaching Artist - ALNUGE) ~ Asheville, NC (2010) W.C. Reid Community Center (Self-Empowerment Through Self-Expression (SETSE) Art Workshop Facilitator) ~ Asheville, NC (2011 and 2010) Randy Shull ~ (Photojournalist, Archivist) ~ Asheville, NC (2010) City of Decatur, Department of Recreation (Reading and Drama Specialist, Summer Day Camp) ~ Decatur, GA (2007) Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) ~ Design from Nature (Artist in Residence) (2007) and City of Neighborhoods Beltline Project ~ (Photojournalist, Archivist) ~ Atlanta, GA (2006) Fulton County School Arts Program ~ Park Lane Elementary School (Literary Artist) ~ East Point, GA (2005) Museum of Design Atlanta (Literary Teaching Artist) ~ Atlanta, GA (2004) Georgia Council of the Arts (GCA) – Tubman Middle School (Touring Roster Artist) ~ Augusta, GA (2004) High Museum of Art ~ “Literary Skills Through Reading Images” (Brookview Elementary School) (Teaching Artist) ~ Atlanta, GA (2004) High Museum of Art ~ “Art Ambassadors: Teen Docent Training” (SETSE Workshop Facilitator) ~ Atlanta, GA (2004) Decatur Recreation and Community Services Department ~ “Wiz Kids” and “Animal Crackers” (After School Workshop Facilitator) ~ Decatur, GA (2004) City of Atlanta, Bureau of Cultural Affairs, ARTSCooL (Mentor-Artist, Literary Arts) ~ Atlanta, GA (2003) Creating Pride (Corporate Artist) ~ Atlanta, GA (2003) R.J. Bailey School (Teaching Artist) ~ White Plains, NY (2003, 2000 & 1999) Leake & Watts, Carol & Frank Biondi Education Center (Arts In Education Specialist/ Creative Writing Instructor) ~ Yonkers, NY (2002) Enrico Fermi School for the Performing Arts (Storyteller/ Writer/ Teaching Artist) ~ Yonkers, NY (2002) Westchester County Youth Bureau – Youth Service Agencies Training (SETSE Workshop Facilitator) ~ White Plains, NY (2001) Yonkers Board of Education, Art Teachers’ Conference (Artist/Presenter) ~ Yonkers, NY (2001) Mount Vernon Board of Education, A.B. Davis Middle School E.S.L. Program (Teaching Artist) ~ Mt. Vernon, NY (2001) City of Mount Vernon, Bureau of Recreation, Cultural Arts Summer Travel ('CAST') Camp (Syllabus Designer/ Camp Director) ~ Mt. Vernon, NY (2001) Daniel Webster Magnet Elementary School Repertory Theatre (Director/ Writer/ Producer) ~ New Rochelle, NY (2001) Oakside School (Kidsbridge) ~ Peekskill, NY (2000) The Excelsior Program Corporation, Professional Development Workshop Series (Westchester Arts Council) (Facilitator) ~ White Plains, NY (2000) Suny Purchase, Early Childhood Development Workshop (Facilitator) ~ Purchase, NY (2000) Express Yourself, Young Adults’ Writing Workshop (Greenburgh Arts & Culture Committee & Theodore D. Young Community Center) (Facilitator) ~ Greenburgh, NY (2000) The Learning Institute, Summer Reading/Writing Camp (Resident Teaching Artist) ~ Bedford Hills, NY (2000) Westhab Family Center (Greenburgh Arts and Culture Committee) ~ Elmsford, NY (2000) Community Opportunity Center ~ Tarrytown, NY (2000) Lincoln High School ~ Yonkers, NY (2000) School #17 (Career Magnet School) ~ Yonkers, NY (2000) Westchester Arts Council /United Way of Westchester and Putnam/ Westchester Community Foundation, 'The Arts and Human Services: A Powerful Partnership” (Artist/Presenter) ~ White Plains, NY (2000) Highview Elementary School ~ Hartsdale, NY (2000) Mount Vernon Youth Bureau 'Safe Places' ~ Mt. Vernon, NY (1999) Colonial Elementary School and Prospect Hills Elementary School ~ Pelham, NY (1999) Nellie Thornton Performing Arts Magnet School ~ Mt. Vernon, NY (1999) A.B. Davis Middle School ~ Mt. Vernon, NY (1999) Woodlands Middle School ~ Hartsdale, NY (1999) Empire State Partnership ('ESP') Superintendent's Day (Artist/Presenter) ~ Hartsdale, NY (1999) Edward Williams School ~ Mount Vernon, NY (1998.)
~ ~ ~
'Just read the energized article in Planet Art Feb 2013 on the dynamic Cleaster Cotton Contemporary Primitive Artist. The excitement that just poured from the editorial was palpable as is the Artist Cleaster Cotton. Thank you for capturing her in your words by not holding back on the adjectives, fabulous smile, exuberant eyes, makes Picasso look like an amateur as well as the 8 feet tall masterpieces are where she really shines. And as you said, Can she get any more spectacular? Yes and I am looking forward to experiencing her creations. Cleaster’s work is so current yet sings of the sages from thousands of years ago and provides beauty and stimulus for the Spirit now!'
Margaret C Pazant ~ Elegant Executive Life Coach, Los Angeles, California USA (2013)
~ ~ ~
'It has been a delight to witness your evolution as an artist. From photography, through the classroom, to the canvas, you are an asset to the education community and to the art world. Your freedom of expression, married with your obvious discipline, comes through loudly in your latest body of work. Echoes of the ancestral spirits are ringing through.'
Peggy Dillard-Toone, Entrepreneur, Artist, Actor, Singer, Legendary Supermodel, Owner ~ Villa 121 Harlem Guest House, New York, New York USA (2013)
~ ~ ~
'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, New York, USA (2011)
~ ~ ~
‘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)
~ ~ ~
'Cleaster Cotton is a dynamic and visionary artist.’
Randy Shull & Hedy Fischer, Artists, Entrepreneurs, Activists, Owners
Pink Dog Creative
Asheville, North Carolina USA (2011)
~ ~ ~
'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)
~ ~ ~
'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)
~ ~ ~