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May 3, 2014

GHS art students a shoe-in

GREENVILLE — Greenville High School art students not only create art, but also wear it on their shoes.

Darla Abrego, art teacher at GHS, hand-picked a team of six of her students to enter into the 2014 Vans Custom Culture design and art competition for the shoe production company.

GHS was one of 2,000 schools to enter the competition, and is now one of 50 schools the Vans staff chose to go to the semifinals.

If Greenville is one of the five teams to make it to the finals, she and the six students would receive an all-expense-paid three-day trip to New York City for the final judging.

The winning team would receive a $50,000 donation to their school’s art program and Vans will make and sell the shoe at their stores. The four runners up would receive $4,000 for their school’s program.

For the competition, Abrego’s students were given four Vans shoes to design, with four categories, including art, local flavor, music and action sports to choose from.

Ernan Medrano and Jaime Zelaya chose the art design category.

Medrano and Zelaya said they decided to go with an exotic animal theme.

“When we put the tiger in we decided to have an animal theme,” he said.

The process took the students just over three weeks, and they said getting it all to fit on the shoes took time.

“The hardest part was the tiger,” Zelaya said.

Alex Garcia was picked for the local flavor category, and chose to go with his Hispanic roots for his “Day of the Dead” design.

“In Texas we do the Day of the Dead because we are close to Mexico,” he said, adding he did most of the artwork with a ball-point pen.

With her music design, Heather Norman wanted to incorporate color into her artwork.

“I like to use a lot of color,” she said. “I knew what I was going to do when we started.”

Norman’s design has a guitar in one shoe with musical notes coming from the guitar and flowing into the other shoe.

“It took a bit because of the different layers of colors,” she said.

For Zane Nichols and Zach Norman’s art, they decided to go with surfing as their action sport design.

“We were going to do skating but couldn’t find a realistic way to draw it,” Norman said. “This was a better concept to do.”

Their design includes surfers out on the waves, including one who is in a precarious situation with a shark.

Norman drew the water and the sharks, while Nichols drew the beach and the sky portions of the art.

Norman said by each person drawing on their strengths and working together, they were able to publish a good design.

“We had to work as a team for the design to come together,” he said.

Coming from a background in production design, Abrego said she uses the competition to help her students find ways to turn their art into a career field.

“The reason that I started doing the competition was it was a great lesson in the kids working together in collaboration and product design,” she said. “They are funneling their creativity into a career. It’s a great skill for them.”

Since voting has now moved from the Vans staff to an open vote by the public, Abrego is pushing for the community to get involved to help the team.

“At this point it is a popularity contest,” she said, adding the students all volunteered for the project, which does not include a grade for the extracurricular activity.

The students are also in the middle of a side competition through Vans  and are decorating a skateboard with a theme from the organization’s anti-smoking campaign.

The winner of that competition gets $10,000 for their art program.

“The students have done so well. They deserve it,” she said.

Voting will continue through May 12.

To vote for Greenville, visit and click Vote Now, then click for southwest region and select Greenville High School.

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