Emerson Christopher Carlton Holt was born and resides in Asheville, North Carolina. Raised in the mountains, he integrates his exposure to nature into much of his artwork. His contemporary style is energized by a simplicity reminiscent of Asian design while also displaying an organic sensitivity. He also draws from his artistic training in classical realism.
From a young age, Holt spent much of his free time drawing and painting before finding his way to the art department at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. There, his attention was captured by the Native American Artist, Kimowan Metchewais. He learned much about the creative process and about the nature of telling stories through art. After Chapel Hill, his lust for travel took him throughout Central America and Mexico where he was visited ancient sites including Copan in Honduras and Chichenitza in Mexico. He also found his way to the frescos of Diego Rivera.
Upon arriving back in Asheville in 2003, he met the legendary artist Benjamin Franklin Long IV, who was founding a school in the mountains dedicated to the study of drawing based on his experience studying in Florence after the Vietnam War. Christopher quickly became a devoted student, focusing on improving his study and observation of life. Over time he became an integral part of the school and worked on Maestro Long’s frescoes. After a decade of work with Long, the school and its outreach programs, Holt moved to his own studio when the school’s tenure ended.
Through the years, Holt has taken inspiration from the landscape of the Carolinas. He has spent a good deal of time painting in Charleston and the Lowcountry as well as the mountains of Western North Carolina. His frequent travels abroad have also contributed to his subject matter. He continually searches for new influences and imagery always returning home to show his work, teach and inspire others.
His travels have taken him as far Cairo, Egypt where he spent five weeks painting in oil and watercolor and drawing in ink on papyrus. He has also been to the Dominican Republic where he facilitated the painting of two murals in a small village where Haitian children worked alongside Dominican children to complete pictures of peace and community in a country caught up in racial injustice. He also painted in Jamaica and Cuba. He is currently working on a project for the Order of Saint John with fellow Charleston artist, Jill Hooper, to paint a fresco in Jerusalem.