Stepping outside of the box

Art students came together to compete in the Custom Culture Vans competition.


Elizabeth Boyum

Both pairs of shoes are staged.

Fashion is an expression of art. The Vans Contest is a national competition for high school art students to show off their state through shoes. The 2019 themes for the contest are “Off the Wall’ and ‘Local Flavor’. Cannon Falls High School art students from all different backgrounds have come together to transform the white canvas sneakers into a walley with moving features, a vikings ship with oars, a portable ice fishing house with a homey feel, and even a water ski with the Vans logo on the board. Each shoe represents a specific aspect Minnesota.

The competition itself selects only 500 schools across the nation to receive shoes to test their creativity. A group of ragtag art students put their ideas together to compile a Minnesota theme in both pairs of shoes. In the early stages of brainstorming, the group wanted to have each shoe represent a part of Minnesota’s seasons, but they quickly realized the shoes would probably remain white to represent all of the snow… They finally decided on their amazing design with the help of their official advisor, Mrs. Hernke.

The competition began when they mailed out two pairs of white vans shoes along with some rudimentary supplies on February 11th. With much enthusiasm, Mrs. Hernke organized meetings every week to make their ideas a reality. In the beginning, a few students were the head of a designated shoe. By the end of the crafting period, everyone was pitching in with different shoes and helping out wherever they could. Kids from all different backgrounds were recruited such as Sam Coyle, a dedicated robotics member as well as a talented art student. The most unique aspect of the shoes according to Coyle is “the smaller details, like the weather map on the TV inside the ice house and the shields on the side of the boat.”

The fish tail moves, the ice house opens up to an entire inside, and every aspect has a specific meaning”

— Riley Meyers

A few features of the shoes that are unique from past years are the interactive and moving parts. Senior Riley Meyers elaborates by stating, “ there’s so much more than what meets the eye. The fish tail moves, the ice house opens up to an entire inside, and every aspect has a specific meaning.” Riley mostly worked on the intricate details of the ice house by using all sorts of materials to give it an authentic feel.

After an intense week of dealing with technical difficulties and weird schedules, the shoe designs were finally submitted on April 15th. Mrs. Hernke is extremely excited about the contest and when asked about the competition, her only comment was “we are going to win!” If what she says is true, the Cannon Falls art program will receive a large donation from the Vans company. There will also be an even put on by Vans for the entire school.

By being selected to compete in this national contest, Cannon Falls students have been able to let their creativity shine through. Maybe in the process they can get a few new brushes on the side.