SAINT IGNATIUS – They aren’t shoes made for walking — but for winning.
A national contest by Vans — the stylish shoe people — could secure a future for the Saint Ignatius High School art program — with your help.
They’re shoes, that have soul; depicting the essence of the Mission Valley. They’re hand-painted and beaded by students at Saint Ignatius High School for the Vans Custom Culture project.
This year, the school made the semifinals in a national competition designed to inspire and empower high school students by embracing their creativity through art and shoes.
“So this year the team was able to come up with a great concept that really represented our Valley. They really worked on these every day for a long time,” Saint Ignatius High School art teacher Caitlin Shelman said.
Saint Ignatius is one of 50 schools to make the semifinals in this contest.
Their designs depict the wildflowers of the Mission Valley, along with the mission and the mountains. They are depicting a culture that’s a part of life on the Flathead Reservation.
“I guess I was like the cultural advisor because…like the students are not all like Native, so they don’t completely understand the culture,” explained Annalysia DuMontier did the beadwork for the project. “Obviously living around here you’ll get the gist of it. It just represents us and Montana.”
“The conversations that they had about how they would appropriately represent tribal culture here in a respectful way were really interesting conversations that we want the students to be having,” Shelman told MTN News
There are actually two pairs of shoes in this contest. One is the bison skull which is actually one pair of shoes, sole to sole. The creation by senior Yonne Baty looks like the real thing.
“I came up with a bunch of ideas and I had an idea for making them into a buffalo skull and our class really liked that so that’s what I chose,” Baty said. “And in local native American culture, the bison is very important.”
The winning school gets a $75,000 prize for their art department, some Van’s swag and a big party to celebrate. The four runners up get $10,000 to enhance their art programs — programs that are often the cut when budgets get tight.
The kids would love to win that $75,000 but even if they win $10,000, that’s the kind of money that can make a real difference for the future of the art program.
”This program at this school hasn’t been consistent. They had several years without an art teacher at all. We would be able to give these students the world-class arts education they deserve,” Shelman said.
From a plain old shoe to a celebration of culture, those who see this entry get a glimpse of what it’s like to walk in the shoes of students in Mission Valley — students who’ve already taken a big step toward success.
You can vote once a day up until May 5 at 6 p.m. by clicking here. Azia Rain Umphrey, Olivia Garland, Maria Bugeda de Bonilla, Yvonne Baty and Annalysia DuMontier all participated in the project.
Reporting by Jill Valley for MTN News