Rochester students’ art featured in esteemed Grand Rapids competition

Holy Family Regional School’s submission in the 2017 Grand Rapids ArtPrize competition, titled “Circle Paintings,” is on display at the Grand Rapids Women’s City Club.

Rochester — Eighty-six third-graders are making their mark on a prestigious art competition — a circular mark, to be exact.

Students from Holy Family Regional School in Rochester are participating in ArtPrize, a Grand Rapids-based art competition that features public displays of art throughout the city’s downtown for the public to admire and vote on the winners.

The students “Circle Paintings” is featured at The Women’s City Club, 254 E. Fulton St., the result of a grade-wide project completed last spring in Cheri McEneaney’s art class.

“I received an announcement about ArtPrize featuring 26 student-driven projects for groups of children under the age 18,” said McEneaney, who teaches at Holy Family’s north campus. “I took the ‘Circle Paintings’ project we did last year, submitted a video about the project to ArtPrize, and then the organizers contacted me saying the project would be featured.”

For the first time in the competition’s nine-year history, ArtPrize invited schools from across Michigan to participate in the Youth Collaboration Award, a project sponsored by Western Michigan University, where the winning school receives $5,000.

McEneaney became familiar with the Grand Rapids competition when visiting her daughter at Grand Valley State University in nearby Allendale.

“A lot of people don’t know about ArtPrize on this side of the state,” McEneaney said. “I explained to students that artists across the world are featured in this competition, and we were one of 26 schools in the state of Michigan that were in this competition.”

The students’ piece was influenced by Vietnamese artist Hiep Nguyen’s circle paintings, which involved inviting people to simply paint a circle on a giant canvas.


This is the second year McEneaney has done the project in her class.

“It was a project done with the whole second grade,” McEneaney said. “We did it in one day. I have four second-grade classes that last 40 minutes. The first class did circles, the second class did circles, then the third class did designs like dots and stripes, and the fourth did some more designs and the background.”

Nguyen’s original project had rather humble beginnings, McEneaney said. Children in Vietnam were bored and asked Nguyen if they could paint circles on a blank canvass. He obliged, thinking eventually the children would grow bored of painting circles. But instead, people began to line up outside his studio, waiting to paint circles and contribute to the canvass.

“I thought it was a nice project that everybody can do,” McEneaney said. “It lends itself to colors and shapes.”

Because not everyone can make the trip to Grand Rapids, McEneaney has posted pictures of the art being displayed at the Women’s City Club, along with a note remarking on how tremendous an honor it is to be featured in ArtPrize.

“People who know about ArtPrize are impressed, and those who don’t are grateful the art is shown,” McEneaney said. “We put it up on Facebook and it’s gotten a lot of likes.”

The piece will be displayed through Oct. 8. On-site voting for the competition ended Sept. 30.

Holy Family principal Jon Myers said it’s quite an honor for the school to be featured, adding it’s a chance for the school to show the importance of art in education.

“We know ArtPrize is a well-respected art show that brings people from all over the country,” Myers said. “We’re really proud of their accomplishments, a full culmination of all the students working together. Our school always wants to support the arts, support the kids, having a good well-rounded background.

“Cheri (McEneaney) does a phenomenal job with the kids,” Myers added. “When she came to us talking about a submission, we got excited. She’s been sharing a lot with the students; learning about what ArtPrize is all about, getting them excited. Everyone is just really proud.”

Holy Family at ArtPrize

For more information about Holy Family’s submission and hours of operation for the Grand Rapids Women’s City Club, 254 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, visit