A New Face for Bethesda's Newest Study

By Liz Voboril

The seeJesus Bethesda team will soon unveil its sixth Bible study, adapted from A Loving Life. Hesed: A Study of Ruth reflects the same richly interactive content as previous studies, but it wears a new—and more expressive—face. The intriguing images of Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi were created by Dillon Johnson, a 23-year-old Philadelphia-area artist with autism. Dillon drew the cover art for the new study and is in the process of developing sketches for the companion student manual.

We met Dillon through an adapted Bible study hosted by Bethesda’s Felicia Grandinette and taught by Hesed author Jill Miller. Dillon’s creativity, enthusiasm, and distinctive talent inspired Felicia to reach out to him and his family about a partnership.

Both sides are thrilled with the results. Felicia explains, “Dillon’s talent makes our work better at multiple levels. We ended up with a cover that is beautiful but that also expresses the heart of our work. We never want those affected by disability to be objects of charity. We want them to fully participate in the church body by serving and sharing their gifts. This cover gave Dillon a way to do just that.”

Dillon’s parents remember that during his childhood, he only drew stick figures and, like most people with autism, had a hard time with fine motor skills, including coloring. “Dillon was reading books by the age of 2,” shared his mom, Heidi, “and he focused more on the words than the photos.  However, by the time he was 12, Dillon started creating his own pictures, which at first were somewhat unrecognizable.  Slowly, he began to develop the skill of color, depth, shading, facial expression, and detail. His ability to add emotion and expression to his characters is unique, as most people affected by autism find it difficult to recognize those feelings in others.”

Dillon has a dream to work for Pixar someday, creating animation, story-boarding, or modeling. He spends his days working hard on his craft and is starting to learn Photoshop as part of his desire to attend a college class and bring his drawings to life!

Experienced designer and long-time seeJesus partner, Seth Guge, incorporated Dillon’s art into a complete cover design. Seth observes: “Dillon’s style as an artist is unique and imaginative. I could see an animation firm trying really hard to create something as unique as this and still failing! I hope this is just the first of many opportunities for him.” So do we, Seth!

Hesed: A Study of Ruth is on track for publication in early 2019.