Visual Arts News

Creative Connections ...


This year marks a both a renewal in Visual Arts and a continuation of established traditions.

We thank Mrs. Smiley (Ms Ware) for her years of art exploration with the students at MMHS as well as Ms Casullo for taking on that role over the last year. Their effort will be well remembered and appreciated by both students and staff. This Year, Ms Jobanputra will continue Yearbook production after an amazing flight themed re-launch, with a fresh and vibrant new look for 2017-8. We welcome Ms Kong in a dual role with Visual Arts and Math and look forward to the further connection within our subject areas. Ms Kong will be working with both Senior Photography students and a Junior Visual Arts comprehensive class in first semester. Ms Ng will also be joining us this semester, with two core Visual Arts classes at the Junior and Senior level. Ms Kong and Ms Ng will also be guiding Visual Arts Club into new creative adventures. Contact any of our staff with your questions or ideas around our courses and initiatives.

Our creative arts team of staff and students is always involved in a number of collaborations and community experiences. To start the year, we are working with the school's Transitions Team, to provide an introductory creative process experience and art take-away for our Grade Nines on their first day of school. The creative process is a tool that can guide us to successful resolution of any challenge and can be used in all our subject areas and life experiences. With three groups of grade nines involved in rotation in just over an hour... it may be one of our quickest creative cycles ever.. and a great way to start the year.

In their first week of school Grade Twelve students will explore an opportunity for a possible art installation at the Markham Fair, in mid September, just a few weeks away, in conjunction with their first class project (and the fairs; themes of Old Days, New Ways). Our installation will visit the MMHS Library and Maker Space, later in autumn, with an invitation for others to participate and contribute to a living, growing, open art experience.

Grade Eleven Photo Students will be formatting work in January, to take part in an early February Exhibition at Gallery 44, Centre for Contemporary Photography at 401 Richmond Street in Toronto. The themes of the show is Looking Forward and other photographic artists may participate by bringing your work to Ms Kong for consultation and potential formatting by the beginning of January.

Our annual Arts Knight, a collaboration with Theatre, Music and Technology is scheduled for May 1st, as an expression of our work throughout the year. We will also continue with a second round of Arts Mind, a week of The Arts in support of Mental Health Awareness, with displays, workshops, and other creative explorations, to foster personal and group wellness. We will also be out, as a department, to lend our support to Equity Week, Wellness day and other initiatives throughout the year.

Emphasizing the ways in which our department shares York Region District School Board's renewed four point vision will be a major focus. Visual Arts is already connected and enacting within these key growth areas and will further focus our own vision plan and direction forward. We also anticipate a new department visual identity unveiled for a 2020 Vision theme launch in January, 2020. Much like our work creating logo and signage for the MMHS library brand re-launch and our prior mural work with Milliken Mills Community Centre Arena and Library, this is an opportunity for our students to exercise real-world communications design learning.

Its going to be a busy and creative year.

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Each Year a number of contests, provide opportunities for our students and are often linked to our coursework. Some of these opportunities come early in the year, like the Markham Fair and OSSTF Student Achievement Awards. Others are short in duration, with timed theme release, like Doodle for Google. A few support local awareness initiatives, such as Ready, Set, Create for York Region Health. Sony's, The World Photography Awards and several other open other contests, are international. Prizes are often involved, ranging from art materials, to cameras, scholarships, cash, travel and adventure experiences (and even fishing gear). All are great opportunities to direct skills-sets, build experience, explore possibilities and the attention to the fine detail involved in the application process. We will post some key materials on our department message board and are available for support.

MMHS students have placed multiple times in the Henry's Provincial Student Photo Contest and have been selected for Gallery 44s online gallery, with one of our students being the only student selected to appear in their print catalogue. Two of our students were also awarded in the annual Law Day illustration contest, recently. All something to add to burgeoning resumes.


This Year, Gallery 44's Camerlinks theme is Looking Forward entries are due mid January. Contact Ms Kong for details.

Sony's worldwide contest involves the theme of Diversity. Visit the site to enter in the student or youth categories November 30th or January 4th:

The Ontario Fish Art Contest involves illustration of a specific featured fish for the annual Provincial Angler License and is due in with completed forms the first week of December.

The Markham Fair is a great local arts opportunity. Items are due shortly after the start of school. For individual contest entries, a nominal fee typically provides participants with tickets to join in all the events. Visit the information site for details. Forms may be due at by September 13th and deliveries are required on specific dates after the 20th. This year's theme is Old Days, New Ways and schools may enter three paintings for display which suit the theme. If students have a related work from this year for display at the fair (like your fruitful harvest of styles series) or are considering quickly creating a project, Ms Middleton is the contact. Visit the information site for details:

There are other surprise offerings posted on the Visual Arts bulletin board outside our first floor classrooms. There are multiple offerings for every month, with something for everyone (even a chance to send off a quick colour splash from your phone to an on-line gallery)... visit our display for details.

Upcoming: Markham Fair, Harvest of Styles - Pop Up, Stand, exploring the connection between painting and produce across a century of trends


Yearbook is for everyone. A dedicated team in our AWE4M1 creates the book through their classroom and much appreciated volunteer hours. The 2017-18 yearbook, under new leadership, with Ms Jobanputra is an amazing design reboot and this year's book is on track to being another thematic wonder.

Students can visit the yearbook promotional table to order this year's book and listen to announcements early in the year for details. Yearbooks pre-orders are available through the yearbook table and YRDSB Cash Online for a limited time. It is a great way to remember and share experiences, during and long after your years at MMHS.

With networking becoming a key part of our professional lives, Being at MMHS can be a vital part of building future community as well. Grads are finding that keeping in touch with MMHS alumni can lead to career tips, inside industry information, post-secondary program insights, and network connections. Remember that in your interactions. (A classmate from your Grade Nine class, might be your future boss or coworker.) ....and remember to get a yearbook, it can be an essential networking tool.


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Be a part of the new theme and a shared experience.




ARTS MIND - AN ALL ARTS EXPERIENTIAL WEEK in support of Canadian Mental Health Awareness - Designing an Event

It started with a concept, to align our annual spring Art Show with a the theme of the coinciding Canadian Mental Health Awareness Week. Grade 11 Design students signed onto the challenge and developed it through their coursework, starting with state of mind theatrical headpieces inspired by costumes and traditions from around the world, across history, followed by digital portraits and Graphic Design. They inspiring other art classes and creative departments to join in... and it became, Arts Mind , a series of arts workshops, experiences, performances, and shows in support of mental health awareness and resilience through creative action.

Arts Mind returns in 2019, in full colour!



As a close to Arts Mind, our arts and mental health week, Ms Casullo organized a new 'Art Battle' experience, right on the heels of a teacher painting workshop. At the event, students simultaneously created personalized spontaneous paintings around the theme of mental health. It was an engaging experience for both participants and an audience of students and staff, who voted on their favourite. This year, one of our teachers painted alongside the students and multiple Grade Nines felt welcomed to join in. In future, we hope to encourage further shared art-making, with continued invitation to all members of MMHS community to participate in their own way.


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This year, Arts Knight was an evening event, featured within the week of ARTS MIND. Arts Knight is a collaborative gathering and sharing of Dance, Drama, Music, Technology and Visual Arts.

Through such events, students build confidence, self-worth, collaborative and expressive skills, while fostering a sense of meaning, connection, appreciation for self, other and togetherness through The Arts. A physical arts display formed a thematic anchor for events in the atrium and a slideshow of art accompanied by music, welcomed the audience into the stage space.

Introductory Photography students Frederica and Rida took on the challenge of events photography and live performance videography, with editing and files management, a major learning curve, with so many variables in place. They proved to be an efficient, effective, enthusiastic and calm dynamic duo. Their work allowed performances to be documented, celebrated and saved as a learning tool.

The new confidence in their abilities, recognition of the value of their individual contribution and energy gained through creative expression will carry all the students involved in the experience forward into their next initiatives and the building of a much richer community.

ARTS KNIGHT 2019 is anticipated on May 1st, 2019 as an opening to ARTS MIND the following week,



CAMERALINKS -GALLERY 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography


Each year, students participate through in-house and off-site shows. Cameralinks at Gallery 44 is one of our favourites. This year the theme of Hero was the inspiration for the show. February marks our annual week long show at the gallery in the 401 Richmond Street creative building. Gallery 44 is one of just a few photo dedicated Galleries in the GTA. Their mandate involves photographic tradition, innovation and education. Each of our Grade Eleven Photography students exhibited a portrait series, exploring traditional and contemporary photographic technologies. Our Photo students are artists, technicians and inventors, exploring the possibilities of the medium in their own, unique directions.

Our students also have also shown their work at the Varley Gallery's McKay House on Main Street, Unionville, The YRDSB Wellington street Headquarters, and through multiple Quest conferences. You can see our murals at The Milliken Mills Community Arena entrance and Milliken Mills Community Library, Youth Corner and throughout the school. Our ongoing projects rotate through displays in our showcases in the art hall and atrium, insuring that work by our students is showcased and shared.


Art as skillsets for work, life and personal balance

Often, we are complimented on the talent of our students. The truth is, that art-making involves a learned skills-set. Even tapping into our innate intuition, creativity and spontaneity is something that is progressively accessed and built through creative experience, insight and reflection. Practising technical skills and revision and visual attention to fine detail and design nuance are foundational aspects of all our courses. We use a design industry creative process model to support this work and prepare students for professional standards and workplace expectations.

Art is sometimes dismissed as a fanciful pursuit or decorative afterthought. However, in modern business circles, CREATIVITY is considered the number one most sought after commodity. Effective and efficient creative problem-solving is a foundation of any strong business or organization. Those educated and experienced in the specifics of visual design are valuable resources in an increasing visual marketplace.

There is a growing awareness, across a range of organization, that Visual Arts also provides a means of fostering wellness. Our students already know and regularly comment on art as a tool for health in their lives and the lives of others. As the recognition and roles of Visual Arts in society expand, so does the range of opportunities for our students.


We learn with and from each other in creative exploration. This year, Grade Eleven Design class fine-honed original characters designs and animated walk cycles with a range of new approaches. Anna's combination of strategies produced particularly amazing results in both .gif and mp4 formats. To see the wonderfully smooth transitions of this animation visit our refreshed department page which better supports motion media (Current technical access issues will delay viewing until later in September.)
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Design students logo work for the library re-branding, has grown into a larger, ongoing identity project, involving a range of signage and maker space experiences. This year, they will take on the task of creating aspects of visual identity and re-branding for our own, Visual Arts Department.


Visuals Arts is multi-faceted at MMHS, focusing on multiple pathways and purposes. One of our goals is to support admission portfolio development, through relevant course projects, effective creative process and ongoing portfolio workshops and mentorship.

A portfolio simply means a collection of work. We use portfolios to document and organize our ongoing projects and to showcase our accomplishments. Portfolios can show both specialized focus and creative range, to gain admission to creative programs and demonstrate a creative problem-solving skills-set, increasingly valued in the workplace. A creative portfolio is an asset to everyone.

Portfolios can take various forms. It is useful to adapt creative collections for viewing in different circumstances. A current professional portfolio is a 'living' collection, requiring ongoing maintenance. At MMHS, we build portfolio awareness and skills and support our students to format portfolios across platforms with industry dominant tools such as Adobe Suite, Linkedin and versatile website builders.

It works. Each year we have had 20 + Visual Arts students join our other graduates at creative programmes across multiple colleges and universities in the GTA., the third largest employer of creative professionals in North America (after New York and Los Angeles). This year, students successfully presented admission portfolios to be accepted in Photography, Interior Design and Architecture programmes at Ryerson, and various Design, Illustration and Fine Arts programmes at OCAD U, York U, Seneca and Sheridan. Many of our grads are working illustrators, photographers, designers and art teachers (one of them even right here with us at MMHS). We anticipate some of this year's grads to continue the tradition and are here to support them on their journeys.

Independent Exploration Portfolio - Kiki

Kiki was so engaged in our in-class 3D Sensation painting assignment, that she continued to make them, coming in at every lunch for weeks. Before she knew it she had a whole series of thematic work. When she looked her six artworks together, she found a common link in that they all explored qualities of the healing journey. She documented the series in both black and white and colour, entitling it: Dimensions of Healing and created a website to document and showcase her work for submissions to galleries, publications and post secondary institutions. Extending herself beyond expectation is part of what earned Kiki a Visual Arts award this year.


Our students can inspire each other in many ways. Milliken grads can show our current students what is creatively possible. The Visual Arts Department is introducing a new feature by showcasing some of our graduates work. In this issue, we feature the work of graphic designer, Leora and Illustrator, CK/Jacky.

Stay tuned to our newsletters and website updates for more featured creative work and portfolios from MMHS Visual Arts Graduates who have ventured into a variety of creative programmes at OCAD U, Ryerson, Sheridan, Seneca, Sheridan, University of Toronto, U of Western Ontario, Laurier U, York U, Carleton and George Brown.

There are many avenues into creative fields .. and it all starts with a creative portfolio.


Leora is both an MMHS Graduate and Graduate of Centennial College's elite Story Arts Centre. She studied a range of design applications including typography, graphic, packaging, animation and web design (an extension of many of the areas within our current MMHS design courses).

Selections from her design portfolio are featured below.

You can see more of her portfolio and read her design blog at:

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CK/Jacky is a recent Graduate of Sheridan College's illustrious four year Illustration Degree program. Jacky's fine, detail oriented work enabled him to enter studies, through an extremely competitive application process. A variety of focused challenges and personalized thesis work contribute to Jacky's growing professional portfolio.

While some of work involves new technologies, Jacky demonstrates that there is, yet, a vital role for traditional media within the field of illustration. In fact, much of design is returning to value a differentiated, 'handbuilt' sensibility as decades of standardized software approaches become familiar and sometimes 'homogenized' across designs. Sheridan's Illustration and Animation degrees continue to value traditional practices and versatility within a digital marketplace.

To see more of Jacky's portfolio, visit:

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We encourage our students to participate and document their efforts in their personal resumes as well as the promotional websites and online portfolios which are part of culminating projects in some of our courses. The following items are a sample of some of the ways are students contributed in 2018:


Our CREATE activities tables Ahmed, Jackson, Joey, Jim, Kiki, Yasmine, Sopbitha, Kayla, and several other key volunteers of all grade levels.


Throughout the year, Sam has taken it upon himself to size and cut painting boards and other materials in the shop. No one has to ask. He simply has seen the need, quietly excused himself and retuned with batches of perfectly measured pieces.


Two introductory photo students, decided to challenge themselves to the task of recording the weeks performances in both still photos and video. Congratulations Frederica & Rida. They followed this up with further live event work in the challenging lighting of the MMHS graduation ceremony and celebration.


Our students Illustrate and advertise our events and other events in the school as well as defining our spaces and communicating central aims. All of the AWD3M1(Middleton) class did excellent work initiating Arts Mind, in support of Mental Health Awareness Week. It would not have been possible without their foundational imagery and concepts. AVI201(Middleton) created wonderful mindful mandalas colouring pages with the phrase, "I am Enough", and volunteered their art to be used to support fellow students in activities throughout the year. (We even think they would be great positive message screen savers.) Dylan has continued to take on any creative challenge, including creating an amazing original illustration and graphic design for Art Knight.

YEARBOOK - Yearbook is a first semester course; however, our school year extends beyond that. Without Ms Jobanputra's dedicated team of volunteers, the completion and distribution of the yearbook would not be possible. Sopbitha and others were instrumental in leading tasks throughout the year.


Heidi has designed and completed a series of calming and inspiring nature based murals in the Guidance Offices to help create a calming space for both students and staff. AVI201 students created amazing mindful mandala colouring pages, with positive messaging and donated their designs for use throughout the year in Wellness workshops and during Arts Mind.


Many more students have contributed in unique and personal ways that help others to create or brighten days. Dropping by classes, to add anonymous tiny positive art messages to whiteboards around the school is one of Kayla's specialties. Other students pop in to make cards or other art giveaways. Creativity makes a difference.


Some students don't mind at all doing a bit of tidying to help maintain our art brushes, organization and workspace. Others, like to arrange classwork for display or manage the bulletin board. Some students prep painting surfaces for the entire class, in order to facilitate efficiency and increase the number of projects that we can create and include in portfolios. For some, it is de-stressing and a way to quietly volunteer, in a significant and much appreciated way.


Students can be on the lookout for Volunteer, Participation and other Growth opportunities with the Visual Arts Department and see an art teacher to become an art room monitor or inquire about other ways to contribute.

The truth is, that everyone in Art volunteers in some personal way... encouraging a classmate, getting a topical conversation started (Desmond excels in this area), identifying an issue or need, shifting materials, etc.

When students actively take on a role within an Art Team, they are actively expressing community membership and attitudes essential to a balanced and positive work and home life.


When everyone takes part, our capacity to do 'good' grows.

for additional information or inquiries, please contact us