Ciara NewtonBaltimore, Maryland

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident (MJ Do Good) 2021

C.C. Newton received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Challenging a measured idea of Brownness in academia has become fundamental for Newton’s personal growth as an artist and an intellectual searching for a culturally enlightened understanding of society, craft, and fine art. Reconstruction-era politics have removed Brown from cultural categories of beauty and value, a practice that enabled the Western art world to consume Brown and Black cultural products without canonizing them or enacting equitable policies for Brown and Black artists. C.C. ‘s practice works to undo anti-Black injustice in place today. Through craft, art world identity politics, and performance she disrupts spaces of privilege in order to analyze our concepts of labor, worth, and beauty. Newton is a PhD candidate in Art Education at Penn State.

My older sister and I were raised by our freckle faced mother in Minneapolis, MN. Our family spent most of my childhood in low-income housing in, and around the Twin Cities. My mother, Deanna, was the first in the family to complete her undergraduate degree and instilled the importance of education in both of her children. Witnessing my only parent work against the academic system and succeed encouraged my sister, and myself, to utilize academia as a liberating form of power that might ultimately break the cycle of generational poverty that has crippled our family history.

After receiving my BFA from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, I began my MFA in ceramics at Cranbrook Academy of Art where I was asked to justify my experience as a Brown female for scholastic validation. Defining and framing visual representations of Blackness in institutionalized spaces became a primary expectation of my art practice. In response, I have chosen to turn the gaze back. I have since began a Ph.D. at The Pennsylvania State University where I make, teach, and research transdisciplinary art making, with a focus on West African, and African American collectives.