Art Show Q&A: An Interview with Mr. Siegel, John Mills' Art Teacher

Art Show Q&A: An Interview with Mr. Siegel, John Mills' Art Teacher

PHOTO: During one of Mr. Todd Siegel's recent classes, a 4th-grade student paints a monster sculpture she created for the John Mills Art Show. Click here for more photos.


Are you ready to celebrate the arts at the 2018 John Mills Art Show? If so, you're definitely not alone!

From 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, the school gymnasium will be filled with artwork from every John Mills student. Art teacher Mr. Todd Siegel has organized the event with the help of the Mills community.

"Sometimes in a society that focuses so much on reading, math and high-stakes testing, people forget about the whole child," Mr. Siegel said. "I hope this event reminds everyone of the importance of art and creative thinking."

Parents will have the option of buying their children's framed artwork, and families can participate of variety of art activities, including painting, sculpting, drawing — and sliming!


John Mills students prepare artwork for the school's upcoming art show.

PHOTO: A John Mills 4th grader paints a pinch-pot monster that he's decided to call "Crazy Arms." Pinch pot is a form of hand-made pottery that dates back to antiquity. District 401 photo by Dave Porreca (click image for larger view).


A Showcase for Student Creativity


This is the second year that an art show solely devoted to the work of Mills students has been held. For eight years before that, Mills artwork was included in District art shows at EPHS

"We began creating district art shows at the high school, but because of the limited space and location I was not able to include more of my students," Mr. Siegel said. "I decided to move it here at John Mills so I can include every artist and be closer to the community that I service." 

To learn more about the John Mills Art Show, check out the entirety of our Q&A with Mr. Siegel below.

For additional coverage, click here for a gallery of photos from one of Mr. Siegel's recent classes. Congratulations to everyone participating in this year's show!


John Mills art teacher Mr. Todd Siegel monitors the progress of some of his 4th-grade students as they prepare for the school's upcoming art show.

PHOTO: John Mills art teacher Mr. Todd Siegel checks out the progress of his 4th-grade students as they get ready for the school's upcoming art show. District 401 photo by Dave Porreca (click image for larger view).


Questions and Answers with Art Teacher Todd Siegel


The following is an edited version of an interview conducted via email between Mr. Siegel and District 401's web/media specialist, Mr. Dave Porreca.


Q: What will parents and other visitors see when they attend the show? In other words, for people haven't been to previous shows, what can they expect?


A: They can expect a lot of artwork and activities highlighting the students at John Mills. They will see:

  • student-created stop motion animations
  • student-framed artwork
  • student-led art fair tables showcasing creative work they created outside of school
  • students sharing art field trips with slideshows
  • students dressing up as famous artists sharing research projects
  • a photo booth where families can put their heads inside a famous painting and have a picture taken to remember the event
  • student musicians sharing their talents
  • cheese and crackers and sparkling juice
  • hanging sculptures and various other artworks

They will be able to participate along with their children in art activities such as sculpture, slime, painting and drawing, and they will have the option to purchase their child’s framed artwork.


Q: How many students will be represented in this year's show?


A: Everyone who attends John Mills School! That's 645 students.


Q: How is the artwork selected for display? Do the students choose? Do you select pieces from the work your students do in class? Or is there some other selection process?


A: This year I have created a variety of artworks that are the correct size to put in the frames. The students choose one of three pieces of completed artworks. They choose a work that they believe is one of quality, aesthetically pleasing or just represents who they are as an artist. If they feel strongly against all the work they created in my classroom, they are welcome to create a piece of their own liking to put into the show.


Q: According to the event flyer, the artwork will be framed. Do the students frame their own work? Where do the frames come from? Do you supply them?


A: I use a company called Artome. I send them the artwork ahead of the event, and they frame the pieces and set them up for display in the gymnasium. Parents have an option to purchase their child’s framed artwork. If they do not wish to purchase the framed artwork they will get the artwork back at a later time.


Q: What do you hope your students get out of the show? In other words, what's the larger purpose of the show?


A: Some of the main ideas I want the students to get out of the show are that art brings communities together, everyone can create artwork and everyone can improve self esteem through the creative process. I want them to see how important it is to create art.


Q: What do you hope parents and other attendees get out of the show?


A: Sometimes in a society that focuses so much on reading, math and high-stakes testing, people forget about the whole child. I hope this event reminds everyone of the importance of art and creative thinking. I would like parents to observe, listen and engage in their children’s artwork.


Q: How many Mills art shows have you been a part of? I have taken part in 10 art shows.


A: We began creating district art shows at the high school, but because of the limited space and location I was not able to include more of my students. I decided to move it here at John Mills so I can include every artist and be closer to the community that I service. This is the second John Mills Art Show.


Q: For you personally, what's it like to teach art to students ranging from 1st grade to 6th? What kind of development do you see in your students' skills as they get older?


A: It is a joy to teach these students. I love to invent new projects and give the students the ability to develop creatively. One nice part of being an art teacher is I get to see them grow up from age 6 to 12, so I actually am a big part of their lives growing up. I try and develop their confidence, give them a variety of experiences and keep them interested. I really try to focus on a growth mindset! My favorite experiences are when students come in as 1st graders and say they cannot draw, then as 6th graders they say art is their favorite subject!


Q: Is there anything you'd like to add about the show that we haven't covered?


A: I am very thankful to have the help of the parents in this community and the wonderful dedicated teachers at my school! This event began because of the amazing community that we have in Elmwood Park and because I believe in the arts. Because of the amount of work involved in these events it means people care and are dedicated to contributing and building a community that is willing to create something positive in our society!


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