Artist Information


Cleaster Cotton is an African American painter and photographer. Born into a large, close-knit family, Cleaster was lovingly raised by southern parents, in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. Her approach as a contemporary and figurative artist is organic, innovative, unexpected, and honest with a refreshing use of texture, shape, line, and color. She manipulates conventional and unconventional materials to produce an eclectic range of vibrant paintings that are often environmentally interactive. Textured paintings play with the light, change with lighting… with the viewer’s perspective, and with solar and lunar shifts. Throughout the day and evening, the narrative unfolds and reveals itself.

At age five Cleaster was inspired to be an artist by her mother. She created her first line of greeting cards and fell in love with art. Geometrics were at the core of her mother’s training, and geometrics continue to inform Cleaster’s artistic expressions and teaching style. Her mother’s early training lead Cleaster to inventing the Modern Day Hieroglyphics - ALNUGE ["al-new-gee"] (Alphabets Numbers Geometrics.) ALNUGE Code Games and Puzzles is fun, game-based education that fosters interactive learning, creativity, cognition, invention, innovation, and brain health. Cotton has used the ALNUGE Coding System to teach K12+ art and academic education for over a decade.

At the age of twelve, Cleaster found herself faced with the magnified challenges of surviving the inner-city without her mother. She sought out opportunities in education and cultural arts that, ultimately, insured her survival. As a teen student and leader, Cleaster served her community, in the vanguard, during shifts in politics and community control, education, art, culture, and health. During early adolescence, a precocious Cleaster joined a New York based education research team and began international travel. She went abroad, on an education research study, along with professionals, administrators, and educators from her Bedford-Stuyvesant / Ocean Hill Brownsville community. The team studied the workings of the innovative Open Classroom Education System, brought it back to the USA, and implemented it here.

Cleaster worked in corporate America for several years before becoming self-employed. She is a Contemporary Primitive Artist and Exo Expressionist Artist. She is a certified Master Teaching Artist, and has served the Westchester Arts Council, Georgia Council of the Arts, Museum Design of Atlanta, High Museum of Arts, UNCA, Asheville City Schools Foundation, and Boards of Education across the nation. Cleaster has taught thousands of children and has facilitated artbased professional development workshops for hundreds of teachers, parents, as well as academic, arts, and community professionals. She is an advanced open-water SCUBA diver, an organic gardener, martial artist, and gourmet chef. She is a Cultural Conservationist who treasures spending quality time with family and friends. Cleaster enjoys the theatre, travelling, film, dining, dancing, and laughter. Cleaster Cotton is loved and loving.