Cleaster Cotton – Visual Art


Cleaster Cotton is a Nubian American Painter, photographer, ALNUGE Inventor, author, educator, and master teaching artist. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY where her mother introduced her to Cubism, paving the way for her invention of ALNUGE [al-new-gee] (ALphabets NUmbers GEometrics). Her grandfather exposed her to the wonders of photography, and she has pursued those arts among many others, ever since.

She has been a certified teaching artist since 1998, and invented ALNUGE in 2002. ALNUGE is a ‘modern-day hieroglyphic’ that helps to improve literacy and communication via word games and puzzles. Her invention of ALNUGE landed her on the Purpose Publishing’s list of Major Inventors and Scientists in 2012.

She moved to Asheville in 2010 and has had close ties with LEAF ever since. Originally becoming a LEAF Schools & Streets board member in 2012 before devoting herself to our Easel Rider program in 2014. She has continued to host ALNUGE workshops at the LEAF Festival and throughout the area as well as having her own art exhibits.

Her involvement with LEAF can be defined by her continual want to identify and fill the needs of the youth and community, be a positive role model for all children (especially children of color), and to support LEAF’s values and mission. This is all evident in her great work with LEAF.

To find out more about Cleaster and her artwork, please visit her artist profile at

To learn more about the ALNUGE education program, please visit