Shoe game

Rio Rancho students tap Native designs for winning footwear

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, May 8, 2014

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(Courtesy photo)

A Rio Rancho High School art class is a semi-finalist in a contest to design Vans shoes.

The style found in the Southwest is unique and is expressed in a variety of ways, including footwear.

Students from Rio Rancho (N.M.) High School wanted to share that Southwestern style when they entered the Vans Custom Culture contest with the Vans footwear company. Their designs have made it into the semi-finals of the competition.

This is the fourth time students from Rio Rancho have taken on the challenge of designing their own Vans, and hopefully this will be the third time they receive the grand prize.

Rio Rancho High School art teacher Matthew Lutz has entered a group of his students in the competition since he was first introduced to it in 2010.

They won the contest in 2010 and 2012.

"I do the contest now because I believe something this big really brings out the best, whether artistically or personally; pushes kids to do something beyond what they can do by themselves," Lutz said. "They have to work together and they have to do things they wouldn't normally do.

"It requires them to put themselves out there and by having success it builds their confidence," Lutz added.

Josiah Concho (Navajo/Acoma) said that he and his fellow students are excited their designs made it into the semi-finals.

"We're really excited we made it this far," Concho said. "It really changed our lives."

According to the Vans Custom Culture website the mission for the art competition is to "inspire high school students across the United States to embrace their creativity and draw attention to the importance of art as an integral part of our schools' focus in the face of shrinking budgets."

Concho said since he and his classmates started this project they've learned how to work together as a whole.

"It took a lot of patience because we had to work with each other," Concho added. "We're really proud of our group work and teamwork."

"I look for a diverse team in order to get a really good design because I feel we need people with different backgrounds to get the best ideas," Lutz said.

Concho added that 20 students participated in the competition and each of them helped design the shoes.

The competition was open to the first 2,000 U.S.-based public or private high schools to register, and once they registered the school received four pairs of Vans shoes to customize, the website states.


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