Art student kick it up a notch

Art classes design, create shoes for national art competition


Ian Jones

Class winners of each contest category met in Wendy Vertacnik’s classroom after school on March 2 to unbox the Vans canvas shoes they will paint their designs on. “I think this will be fun,” said Katie Grear, who won first place in the Action Sports category. “I’m not used to sharing ideas with other people. It will probably be good for team building.”

By Shayla Brillhart

Student in Wendy Vertacnik’s drawing classes have created entries for the annual Vans Custom Culture Art competition for three years. The national recognition awards one entry a grand prize of $50,000 for the school art program.

“They [the students] did beautiful shoes last year,” Vertacnik said. “They worked after school, they even worked on the weekends. I thought that last years were just as good as the five that they picked.”

Each year, students create shoe designs from each category: music, local flavor, action sports and art. From the students’ work, art teachers choose 10 students to work on a final entry to submit for judging.

“Last year was my first art class and I won to do the committee, so it was interesting,” senior Miranda Doores said.

The contest is open to high schools all over the country. Vans narrows it down to their top 50 shoes then leaves it up to the public to select the top five finalists. Seniors in any of the top five schools are eligible for a scholarship at Laguna College of Art and Design.

“We design on a template that is like the shoe and we just design a shoe that matches one of the themes and all the art teachers judge which template they want to base the shoe off of.” Doores said.

The top 5 finalists, determined by internal vote and public vote, will be announced on May 12.

The finalists are then invited to travel to the final event in June to select the winner of the grand prize.

“We had local flavor so since it’s Kansas we wanted to tie in the stereotypical tornado scene and Wizard of Oz, plus we took aspects from the Kansas flag, so the back of the shoe had the stars and Ad Astra per Aspera and then we had a little buffalo and a sunset painted on one side then sunflowers painted on the other side,” Doores said.

Doores and her partner Miranda Pratt would meet at least three times a week to work on shoes. They worked on the shoes on their own time and during class time, making the creating time a total of three weeks for the pair of shoes.

“My design for last year was for the sport theme. It was based on a Japanese print,” senior Lexi Simmons said.

The art students have yet to make it to the top 10 but have high hopes for this year.