Musson Elementary fifth-grader Anna Fike’s “Tree City at Night” received the most community votes of all 25 Art on Auburn designs.

Musson Elementary fifth-grader Anna Fike’s “Tree City at Night” received the most community votes of all 25 Art on Auburn designs.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Rochester Hills debuts student art for ‘Art on Auburn’ unveiling

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 9, 2021

 “Color Doesn’t Matter,” by Juniper Pierce, adorns the street on Auburn Road for the Art on Auburn Project.

“Color Doesn’t Matter,” by Juniper Pierce, adorns the street on Auburn Road for the Art on Auburn Project.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


ROCHESTER HILLS — “This is a really exciting moment for our city,” Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett told the public as he unveiled the Art on Auburn project, featuring the artwork of 25 students, June 3.

Art on Auburn is a community project designed to bring K-12 students’ artwork to new audiences through art applied directly to the surface of Auburn Road in the newly renovated Auburn Road corridor.

“In addition to just really beautifying the area, we wanted to personalize it — not only with the art we put in the median, with the street signs and the roundabouts — but we really wanted to bring the community into that,” said Sara Roediger, the planning and economic development director for Rochester Hills.

Artists in kindergarten through 12th grade were invited to submit artwork to illustrate the theme, “What Community Means to Me.”

The contest drew nearly 500 entries, which were narrowed down to 50 by a jury of artists selected by the Paint Creek Center for the Arts.

The final 25 works were selected by the community through a public vote.

“We had over 5,000 people vote. It was like ‘American Idol’ right here on Auburn Road,” Barnett said.

Musson Elementary School fifth-grader Anna Fike’s “Tree City at Night” received the most votes of all the pieces in the competition.

“Of all the pictures that were submitted, over 500, our residents thought this one was the most like community — the one they liked the most,” Barnett explained.

Fike’s drawing is from a “worm’s-eye view,” looking up at the crescent moon at night through a circle of eight trees.

“Anyone can see it, no matter your size,” Fike said of the meaning behind her piece.

The trees, she said, symbolize Rochester Hills’ longtime Tree City USA designation.

“There are tons of trees and parks and woods in Rochester Hills,” she said. “I’m just very proud of my work.”

Musson Elementary School art teacher Amy King, who served on the Art on Auburn School Steering Committee, said she was thrilled to learn her student’s artwork was selected for the project.

“I’m very proud. She is an excellent artist and always strives to do her best,” she said.

Rochester Adams High School 11th grader Mena Nasiri’s “A Warm Embrace” depicts an abstract portrait of two people hugging.

“A hug is a pretty universal show of support and acceptance,” Nasiri said. “I drew it in kind of an abstract style to showcase that communities are abstract and diverse places.”

The youngest winning artist is Baldwin Elementary School kindergartner Nora Hamilton, whose artwork was titled “Acceptance.”

Encouraged by her art teacher, the 6-year-old got right to work on her piece, using crayons and pencils.

“Acceptance” features four children holding hands outside on a sunny day.

“I made one with a wheelchair, one that was bald, one with glasses and no hands, and then one that was just a normal person,” Nora Hamilton explained.

Her mom, Jenny Hamilton, said Nora drew the artwork independently.

“I was proud of her for putting herself out there and giving it a try and more than anything was so moved by the meaning behind her picture. It was just all about inclusion and everyone in the community being accepted, regardless of our differences,” Jenny Hamilton said.

During the event, Nora Hamilton said she was happy to have been selected as a winner, but nervous for her speech to share the meaning behind her drawing.

“We’re all different, and that’s good, because if we were all the same then that wouldn’t be fun at all,” said Nora Hamilton as she explained her art to the public. “That means we should all be together no matter what.”

The printed artwork has a life expectancy of up to 10 years.

“This art is going to be here when you are old enough to drive,” Barnett said to Nora with a chuckle.

Additional winning artists include Melinda Zhang, Mia Gerstenschlager, Alina Ju, Madison Batson, Bella Cirenese, Aarya Patel, Sloane Barlow, Lilly Scheu, Katie Austin, Juniper Pierce, Kelsey Fisher, Avery Miller, Lily Pfeiffer, Tatyanna Edwards, Sophia Karras, Sophia Donnellon, Diya Menon, Leo Comfort, Ashwin Ananth, Quinn Gordon, Chetan Prasad and Asmi Dubey.

Art on Auburn is a collaboration between the city of Rochester Hills, the Paint Creek Center for the Arts, and Rochester Hills students. For more information, visit burn.