At the end of computer class, when Dylahn Hall and his classmates are given a few spare minutes by their teacher to play games on their monitors, Dylahn spends the time Googling images of Jesus, Mary and the saints.
Throughout his first-grade year at Ascension of Our Lord School in LaPlace, the 7-year-old has used these electronic images as the inspiration for a series of vivid, religious-themed drawings in crayon, marker and colored pencil.
Dylahn’s early love for sacred art instantly caught the eye of Susie Bourgeois, his first-grade teaching assistant.
“Dylahn is very passionate about his artwork – he’s very detailed. He doesn’t stop until he’s finished,” said Bourgeois, showing a fuchsia-shaded masterpiece made by the young artist depicting the sanctuary of Ascension of Our Lord Church, complete with its lectern, crucifix, lectionary, monstrance, altar and Easter candle. The composition also features a stained glass window of a saint – a figure Dylahn calls “St. Patrick” because of his green vestments.
Dylahn, a parishioner of Our Lady of Grace in Reserve, shrugs his shoulders when asked why most of his drawings focus on the sacred.
“I draw things that I see in church, a lot of altar pictures,” Dylahn said, adding that he tends to draw very quickly.
Bourgeois, who supplies her first graders with blank sheets of paper whenever they finish their classwork early, said she treasures a piece Dylahn made just for her: a crucifixion scene, backed by raindrops and a lightning bolt. On the back of the blue sheet, Dylahn wrote some of the 10 Commandments.
“I saw Jesus in weather like that,” said Dylahn of the somber scene.
A more joyful series of drawings – depicting a risen, haloed Christ, his arms raised in triumph – also fill his portfolio, as do doodles of his favorite character of Spiderman. The first grader, whose current career goal is to be “a soldier,” said drawing makes him feel “peaceful and happy.”
“Dylahn is a sponge who wants to know all about Christ and all about God,” said his principal, Toni Ruiz.
“Dylahn checks out religious-themed books from the library when he has the option of choosing any age-appropriate book,” she said. “He says he enjoys drawing Jesus because he sees him everywhere!”