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Student artists hope creative shoes will win $50K

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Sandy High in top 50 for Vans Custom Culture contest

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Their local flavor shoes focus on the fishing-frenzied quality of the Pacific Northwest.Sandy High School (SHS) has made it into the top 50 schools to compete nationally in the Vans Custom Culture contest.

This will be the school's sixth year competing, and in that time, the school's young artists have won a total of $14,000 for their art program.

In 2014, three students won a special contest after decorating a skateboard deck and went to New York City to claim a $10,000 prize. Then, just last year, 20 students got the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles and took third place in the nation and $4,000 for their program.

This year, Dan Shanklin is hoping for another victory.

"I've always had really talented students at Sandy," Shanklin says. "I like doing this competition because it gives motivation for the kids to do art."

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Sandy High School artists' 'art' shoes depict an art nuevo yin and yang design with birds.That "motivation" is personified by four different pairs of shoes, which are sent out to the students as blank canvas weeks in advance. The criteria is that one must depict "local flavor," one music, one sports and one art itself.

From Sandy, 15 students had a hand in designing and decorating their Vans. Their style of choice, which is evident throughout the series of shoes, is art nuevo.

Shanklin describes this style as being "very feminine and ornate," and pictures of the shoes prove his point.

"I think we have a good chance at regionals this year," he notes. "Our shoes are really strong. I feel like our students make (the competition) a lot more technical."

Junior Emily Davis was among the students who collaborated on the four artsy pairs of kicks. This was her first year working on the project, and it is not an experience she'll soon forget.

Besides being a chance to play with a different kind of creative space, Davis says the collaboration was a major positive takeaway for her.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - New Orleans and the tradition of voodoo was the main inspiration for the artists' music shoes."This project has brought me closer with people I wouldn't have talked to before," she explains. "It opened my circle, not just in the art room, but in the school. I'm really looking forward to getting really close with the people we worked with (on this project) and also be able to get the tools we need for art, so we can expand the types of art we do."

With this project, Davis feels she was granted an opportunity — one not every SHS student gets.

"It's pushed me artistically to be more of an individual," she says, explaining that she wishes all grade levels had the same offerings. "I know some of the freshmen and sophomores have been looking at the tools we have and wanting to work with them. I want to be able to work with all of the grades."

Of the shoes she helped paint, Davis says the "local flavor" was her favorite.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - SHS picked a slightly off the rails sport — skateboarding — for their sports shoes.She talks about the work done to paint the colorful salmon and river scene on the Vans tennis shoes, explaining that every pebble was the creation of multiple people, and when she looks at the shoes, she remembers the collaboration.

"I think it increased our (technical) skills," she adds. ""It's a really unifying thing."

The SHS group is now in need of some local support to continue on in the Vans competition. The public can still vote for their shoes online at customculture.vans.com until May 10, giving the teens a chance to win $50,000 for the art program.