Featured Artist >> Freedom Rodriguez

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As a child, art was my escape. Growing up in the housing projects of New York City, I was exposed to a lot of drugs and violence. Some of which took place in my own home. Drawing was the only way I could cope with the chaos, pain and confusion I experienced.

After my parent's separation, I became even more enslaved to the heavy darkness all around and within me. Much of this 'darkness' showed in my artwork. It became my identity. I was known for the demonic imagery that I posted throughout the city. From vandalism to theft, I did it all in anger and hatred towards all things idealistically good. I did not care about the future, and if there was any hope, I was far from it. If there was a god, why would he put me in a place of so much pain and confusion? In fact, I remember, in the darkness of my bedroom I cursed him. Laying in bed, crying and cursing at God out loud. Hating Him.

Despite my insolence, I knew deep down that there was Someone listening.

Around this time, I began to see glimpses of hope. One instance was when a substitute teacher, who was unknown to me, gave me a brand new portfolio full of art supplies. He said " I see a potential in your future as an artist." I guess he knew that I was drawing while he was teaching math. I had never received such a kind gesture from a stranger. Soon after, my art teacher encouraged me to enter Art and Design High School. This was another person who believed in me.

It was in this school that I met a Christian, who later became a dear friend. For the first time in my life I heard about the love that God had for me and that He listens to my cries, despite my faithlessness. I could not deny it, His love was so unavoidably strong. After receiving the light of Christ everything about my life changed. My artwork also changed and now had a greater purpose.

Now, my calling as an artist is to beautify and to glorify. To bring beauty upon the earth, and to glorify the One who has given me artistic talent. It has been a blessing to experience the ways that God has been using visual art in ministry. Currently, my wife Nancy and I are seeking full time support to join ArtsLink and minister through visual art.

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