AP Studio Art team earns a top 50 spot in national shoe design contest


Jessica Huvaere

art students have worked to paint four pairs of vans shoes, in four different varieties, to be sent in and judged.

Morgan Gallagher, Staff Writer

To any RHS students that have taken an art class in past years, you might have noticed talk of an annual competition. Around the early spring months, AP Studio art students work on a series of blank shoes provided by the Vans Custom Culture contest, with basic themes attached to be designed on four different pairs. Since the contest is a national competition, the themes are encouraged to be stretched to fit the individual school. Senior Andy Valdes comments on the technicalities of it.

“The themes are Local Flavor, Music, Art and Sports. For local flavor, we did Detroit and its streets with the buildings and a T-model,” Valdes said. “For music, we did Motown and how it has evolved. For art, we did Diego Rivera’s mural at the DIA and the graffiti chimera. For sports, we did a bicycle and railings.”

With these guidelines, Michigan life is free to be expressed, which is one thing that AP Studio teacher Mrs. Jessica Huvaere enthuses.

Our shoes are unique because they follow the contest themes while also following a ‘real Detroit’ theme which is pretty cool!” Mrs. Huvaere said. “The talent of the artists all combined together, plus the local theme sets us apart.”

Not only was winning a spot in the Top 50 voting bracket an important feat, but the win becomes more significant when remembering that designing the shoes with such detail had not been an easy task, as Junior Melanie Kelley tells.

To me, it’s really special. Especially after working so hard on those shoes. We would spend hours upon hours at the library slaving over those shoes and starve ourselves until we made significant progress. I got to paint and make the ideas! I designed one of the two music shoes and I painted bits and pieces of the art and music shoes,” Kelley said. “I know it’s pretty special to Mrs. Huvaere for a few reasons. For one she’s like the mother of 2D art at RHS, making us her children. So she seems really proud of us and super excited to see that people appreciate our work.”

The team of AP shoe designers chosen had to put in a precise amount of care into the designs, and also took their own time to contribute to the final work of the four different pairs of vans shoes.

“The shoes took a long time to finish, mostly because we had a lot of rough drafts and could mostly work on them during 6th hour. We had to finish them during spring break,” Valdes said. “I worked on the shoe with the gramophone coming out of it and contributed to the shoe with the chimera and the one with the concert crowd.”

It also must be noted that, throughout the years of Rochester’s participation in the Vans Custom Culture contest, getting into the Top 50 ranking does not happen every year.

It is amazing for us to have gotten to the top 50 because schools all over the country participate. I believe it is also the first time we’ve gotten that far,” Valdes said. “If get into the top five we get to go to Los Angeles, and if we win, we get money for the art department, which is very much needed.”

Public schooling art programs are not funded often as well as needed according to Kelley, and a $50,000 cash prize would certainly be beneficial.

If we win, we could get a huge lump of money for the art department, which is often neglected and could really use the money and the attention seeing as we’ve had to advertise art classes to try and boost enrollment.” Kelley said.

Overall, the contest comes down to voting participation during the Top 50 period. In turn, this means that RHS needs its students and faculty to go to the attached link at the bottom (or search “Vans Custom Culture”), select “Northeast,” then “Rochester High School.” Voter turnout makes all the difference when determining if RHS will continue on.

I am extremely confident in my students artistic abilities. They are a great group and they will go on to do amazing things,” Mrs. Huvaere said.