Colorful, poignant, contemporary primitive, acrylic, and mixed media paintings by Cleaster Cotton are on display through October 27, 2019 at Pink Dog Creative, 342-348 Depot St. in Asheville.
Photography and collage are incorporated into narratives, portraits and vignettes. Cotton triggers memory, stirs the blood and creates a pensive mood that engages the macabre. She depicts snapshots from America’s relentless history of racism and violence, privilege and oppression; its legacy of slavery and subjugation, white supremacy and tyranny.
Says Cotton, “Evocation is as visceral as it is cerebral. This exhibit reflects the blatant and subliminal ‘stuff’ that consistently fosters PTSD in my life… in so many lives… on a daily basis.”
Cotton is an indigenous black American with ancestors spanning the African diaspora. Painter, photographer, educator, inventor, and author, Cotton was born into a large, close-knit family and lovingly raised by southern parents in the heart of Brooklyn, New York.
Cotton was in the vanguard of the Civil Rights Movement and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Fight for Community Control that led to the citywide 1968-69 teachers’ strike of New York. Cotton is a member of The Brooklyn 5. During her recent TEDx Talk (University of North Carolina Asheville, YouTube), she shared her memories and experiences from that historic time in American history.
In 2018, Cotton invented ALNUGE, the Evidence Based / Brain Based Visual Language and Coding System. She is founder and lead instructor of Youth Artists Empowered. She is on the facilitation team of the Artists Designing Evolution (adé) project. She serves on the Southside Rising steering committee and the Asheville City Schools Foundation TAPAS artist roster.
Cotton’s recent exhibits and commissions include: Going To Market, mural artist / designer, partner, UNCA STEAM Studio (2019); Soul Singin’, literary artist, public art installation with Poetry Pathways and UNCA STEAM Studio in Asheville’s River Arts District (2019); Asheville Through Brown Eyes, group show, Asheville Area Arts Council (2019); Winged Narratives: A Social Study, solo show, Asheville Area Arts Council (2019); Blue Spiral 1—Into The Blue Artist Invitational, featured artist (2018), The Junction – Intersections, group show (2017); and the Pink Dog Creative container project mural, solo artist (2016).