EU students express themselves through footwear

East Union art students

Lesa Allen, art teacher at East Union Attendance Center, looks over the work of art students Ty Ballard, Leslie Zuniga, Janson Smith, Carol Coker, Jessica Bishop, and Melaya Myers as they work on their shoes for the Vans Custom Culture art project.

High school art students at East Union Attendance Center are getting the chance to express their creativity through footwear, specifically through Vans shoes.
East Union Art Teacher Lesa Allen said, “I had received a postcard from Vans Custom Culture about this art competition and immediately thought we should sign up. I really think this was the right contest for us – there is a lot of group work in class to get these shoes created.”
In its fifth year, the Vans Custom Culture art competition inspires high school students across the United States to embrace their creativity and draws attention to the importance of art as an integral part of our schools’ focus in the face of shrinking budgets, according to the Vans Custom Culture website.
The first 2,000 U.S.-based public or private high schools to register for Vans Custom Culture, according to the official rules, will receive four pairs of Vans shoes to customize.
Each pair must be customized to represent one of four themes: Action Sports, Music, Art, and Local Flavor.
Seven East Union students are working on creating the Vans “off the wall” lifestyle.
Ty Ballard is working on the “Action Sports” theme. He is choosing BMX, skateboarding, and surfing as the represented sports.
“I chose these sports because most people that wear Vans either surf, do BMX, or skateboard,” said Ballard.
Carol Coker, Jessica Bishop, and Melaya Myers are creating the “Local Flavor” shoe. That pair will have the state flag, cotton, the state blossom, a map of Mississippi, Morgan Freeman, Kermit the frog, white-tailed deer, Teddy bear, the Blues, Elvis Presley, and maybe more.
Coker said, “We think these shoes show Mississippi’s culture and shows what we care about and shows our pride.”
Bishop said, “These designs give everyone a taste of Mississippi – in a shoe.”
Leslie Zuniga is creating the peacock design for the “Art” shoe. She said that she thinks the peacock is a cute bird and she and her partner Esmeralda Romero thought the design should flow from one shoe to the other.
Janson Smith is creating the “Music” shoe. He said he got some of the ideas from the Zatarain’s food box. Piano keys will be on the front of the shoe and a saxophone player will be playing with music notes flowing from the saxophone. More than likely, the shoe will be decorated in black and white colors only.
“This shoe represents what music is. Music is life and I love music. That’s why I chose this theme,” said Smith.
After the entries are whittled down to 50 entries, a public vote will be held and the winners will be chosen out of a group of five finalists. Those finalists will get to travel to New York City for the Vans Custom Culture Final Event. The winning school will receive $50,000 to go towards the high school art program.
“My students got so excited when they realized what that money could do for our school and for the art program here at East Union,” said Allen.