Albuquerque Journal Articlehttp://latino.foxnews.com/latino/community/2011/08/01/art-freedom-eric-christo-martinez-draws-up-life/http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12060109.htm http://www.dukecityfix.com/profiles/blogs/eric-christo-martinez-a-personal-revolution
Eric Christo Martinez was born March 13, 1979 and resides in his hometown, Albuquerque NM, a city rich in Hispanic culture and the arts. Growing up he was fascinated by the arts and tapping into his creative side but it wasn’t until his trip to prison that he discovered his passion for the arts and “tonali” as he calls it, a Nahuatl word meaning your destiny or calling in life and title of one of his paintings. A calling he believes has a purpose much bigger than him and “art for art’s sake”.
Eric’s story began much like that of many others. He got wrapped up in the drug culture and began exercising his entrepreneurial spirit, a trap that much of today’s youth fall into. He began selling drugs which caught up to him at age 22. He was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison for packing 2 firearms while conducting a cocaine deal. A hard pill to swallow for a kid with his whole life ahead of him, but he chose to make the best of it and his life. He began by just dabbling in art with the typical prison arts and crafts but it quickly developed into a passion. It wasn’t until he landed in segregation due to a prison riot for 6 months that he started studying drawing and spending every day in a 6 x 9 cell drawing and developing his craft. “It wasn’t until I went to the “hole” that I began studying and drawing fiercely at that little table.” He spent 6 months with two other inmates packed in a 6 by 9 cell like sardines before being transferred to Loreto, Pennsylvania where he met his soon to be mentor, Hendrick Gil, who had formal training as a painter. “Gil taught me about the fine arts. I was awe struck when I walked into the hobby shop and viewed his work for the first time.” Martinez is a self-taught artist in addition to mentoring with Gil for 10 months. “He gave me the key to open the next door in my path; the world of fine arts.”
“The Passion of Christo” was Christo’s first painting and self-portrait after Gil left the Pennsylvania penitentiary. This was a defining moment in his journey. This painting was Christo finding his voice and painting his convictions of transformation. "I chose to embrace and paint my environment and create a new perspective of such experiences" and thus the "Conviction Series" was born; a body of work that speaks volumes to people inside and out of the prison walls. Christo found his freedom through art and is dedicated to sharing this voice, inspiration and artwork with the community and those convicted in hopes of helping people find their freedom.