My Town: Shoe Art Captures Soul of BHS Students

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Courtesy: Liz Dihn

By Cheyenne Wurm, Brunswick BEAT Reporter

BRUNSWICK-The students of Brunswick High School (BHS) never stop creating. They, along with many high schools across America, are designing on a whole new surface-shoes, as part of the Vans Custom Culture Competition sponsored by Vans Shoe Company.

Each year, the owners of Vans Shoes send out blank white shoes to each registered high school. Four pairs of shoes are made available: 106, Sk8 Hi, Slip on and Authentic. Each pair was sent to BHS around February 1 and had to be completed before the students left for Spring Break around March 25.

Along with the delivery of the shoes came four pre-selected themes by Vans; Music, Art, Extreme Sports and Local Flavor. No limits were set as to what was able to be added onto the shoes or what color combination could be applied.

Brunswick Beat News- Austin Taylor

Brunswick Beat News- Austin Taylor

It was a first-come, first-serve basis for this year’s competitors; Brianna Kekik, Liz Dihin, Vinny Piazza and Austin Turner. After they secured their topics from BHS art teacher Chelby Benson, they began sketching out intricate designs based on the shoes they were given. Students were able to take home their shoes and designs as often as they felt necessary along with whatever type of art medium they wished to use.

Local Flavor, chosen by Vinny Piazza, incorporated symbolic colors and elements found around remote places in Medina County and surrounding areas, including a prominent painted lighthouse.

Brianna Kekik snatched the ever-so coveted Music theme. With such a wide variety of possibilities, she incorporated all the elements that are commonly know associated to music. A piano stretching across both shoes, eccentric colors and the pulse of the music is represented by the heartbeat in black and white on the base of the shoes.

The classic versatile theme of Art was given to Liz Dihin and Extreme Sports to Austin Turner. Liz described her design as, “Think, Dream, Imagine, and Art. The words are incorporated through my shoes,” she explained. “It is the only way I could think to explain it. ”

Liz added a little bit of flare with simple graffiti designed by herself and painted on, with the help of fellow artist Austin Turner, her hobbies in airbrush and graffiti work. Austin was given Extreme Sports for his topic, “ I wanted to do something different,” he explained. “I though many people would choose skateboarding and such so I went out of the box and chose Break Dancing.”

This is Austin’s second year in the contest with Brunswick and compared to his music-themed shoes last year, his shoes this year featured “simple Adobe design principals with accent and fading colors.”

All four pairs of shoes are judged as a group and are more aesthetically pleasing if judges can find a commonality between all four shoes, which if a viewer looks closely, they will be able to see.

If the Vans nation and judges like the pictures that were sent in, they will be promoted to semi-finals where photos are uploaded online at vans.com/custom where the public can view and vote for their favorites. After all votes are totaled on May 13, the top five schools are sent across the country to be seen by guest judges. The first-place school will have their shoes displayed and have $50,000 dollars awarded to their school’s art program.

While the shoes can be voted for online, nothing can compare to viewing them in person, which is exactly what Brunswick is offering. The shows will soon be put in a showcase in the Media Center at Brunswick High School.

Austin explained his overall thoughts on the contest. “It is great to see a big business such as Vans supporting aspiring artist like us,” he told us with a smile, “especially in such a creative way as painting shoes.”

Brunswick never stops producing a wide variety of students and artists who never fail to surpass expectations.


Cheyenne Wurm, a tenth-grader at Brunswick High School, is one of over thirty “backpack journalists” in the award-winning Brunswick Schools Video Program.

The Program is sponsored by RPM, Plum Creek Assisted Living Community, Medina Hospital and Lorain County Community College/University of Akron at Midpoint Campus. Click here to learn more about the program.