WARREN — A De La Salle Collegiate senior’s computer-generated design has won the 10th annual Christmas Card Contest held by the Brothers of the Christian Schools District of Eastern North America (DENA).

Damian Anonick of Grosse Pointe Woods was the top entry in this year’s contest, becoming the first De La Salle student to ever win. The theme for this year’s card contest was “modern interpretation of the no room at the inn.”

From start to finish, the card project took Anonick just under five hours over three days to complete.

“I worked during class, during free mod, after school, about an hour and a half every day for three straight days,” Anonick said. “Then I brought it to (art teacher John Hicks) on the third day just to get some more advice on it, and I sent it in.”

DENA plans to mail Anonick’s Christmas card this month to brothers, heads of ministries, board chairs, and others. 

Anonick said the inspiration behind his depiction was born from the humanitarian crisis on the U.S. southern border.

“The concept was a more realistic, modernized version of the Nativity,” he said. “So my whole mentality right off the bat was recent events in history, which was Mexicans being separated from their families. So right away I thought that should be the nature of my piece.”

Damian Anonick said the inspiration behind his nativity scene came from the humanitarian crisis on the U.S. southern border. “My whole mentality right off the bat was recent events in history, which was Mexicans being separated from their families. So right away I thought that should be the nature of my piece.”

The main image of the Blessed Mary is from an actual photograph of a young Mexican woman recently reunited with her small child.

“It’s a picture from a news article that I found online,” Anonick said. “From that I built the atmosphere around it and built what looks like a nativity.”

Anonick, who has a 3.7 grade-point average, says he began to cultivate his artistic talents with advice from his former teacher at St. Joan of Arc School in St. Clair Shores.

“Ever since I was little I always liked drawing in my notebooks,” he said. “I never really noticed it until I had a music teacher, Mrs. DeGrande. She was all about taking certain things out of music and showing it. I was always at the focal point in some of the songs because when I was younger I had a really strong tenor, high voice and she loved to showcase that. That kind of brought me into the arts and that’s when I started to go from small sketches in my notebooks to doing pieces.

“Going to De La Salle and being in the art program has just shown that I can do so much more than just a little, tiny sketches in a notebook.”

Anonick estimates he’s completed “millions” of artistic works, from carving a face in a floor tile and turning Rock’em Sock’em Robots into Ronald McDonald and Burger King.

After he graduates in June, the four-year member of the school’s Wig & Mask Society plans to study technical engineering or product design in college, narrowing his choices to Michigan State, Western Michigan, Kettering University and the College for Creative Studies.

Ideally, he says he’d like to minor in product design and major in engineering. For now, he’ll enjoy his card contest win.

“I’ve never won an art contest before,” Anonick said. “So this has been a real shock to me. My parents, honestly, are the most proud. My dad went out and bought ice cream (to celebrate) on the same day, so that was kind of funny.”

Author Bill Roose is vice president of marketing and communications for De La Salle High School in Warren. This article first appeared on delasallehs.com. It is reprinted with permission.