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Student’s design goes national

It all began with Ana Montesdeoca taking pictures of her dad’s feet.

The South Mecklenburg High School senior’s shoe design, above, was selected by Vans Shoe Co. to be included in a national tour of designs from its Custom Culture Shoe Design contest.

Ana, who’s president of South Mecklenburg High’s National Art Honor Society, was among five students at the school who participated in the contest. Students were asked to make their own creations on a pair of white canvas Vans sneakers.

Each shoe was to represent one of four themes – action/sports, music, art, and local flavor – and have an overall theme unifying the entire collection.

“Our team decided that our collection would have a bird-inspired underlying theme because we thought that it would be interesting to develop designs from a perspective other than our own,” Ana said.

Student Anna Bodnar’s action/sports shoe showed a bird’s-eye view of bungee jumping; Sophia Carpenter’s local flavor design had images of a cityscape representing Charlotte from a bird’s-eye perspective; and the music-themed shoe designed by Hannah Witner and Case Baumgarten depicted instruments and music transforming into a colorful macaw.

Ana, whose theme was art, said she was inspired by a talk about flora and fauna by Ellen Estes, South Mecklenburg High’s National Art Honor Society teacher sponsor.

“I’ve always had this fascination with birds,” Ana said. “I just love the elegance and in a lot of aspects I think they’re like people. ... I thought for the shoes, ‘What kind of correlates with a bird’s foot and a human’s foot?’ So I photographed my dad’s feet and started doodling a bit on my sketchbook. I figured out I was going to have these huge talons and expressive toes and oldish bridges and bumps, and then have these soft, contradicting features” that would show the feet gradually morphing into those of a blue jay.

She used watercolor, fabric markers and Sharpies. Judges at Vans chose South Mecklenburg’s entries among the top 50 from 1,000 participating schools in the U.S.

Although the school didn’t make the top five finalists in public voting via Facebook, Vanssaid they want to include Ana’s shoes in its national tour. When Ana’s shoes come back this month, “hopefully I’ll get to wear them out and show them off,” she said.

Her main focus is perfecting her portfolio in hopes of getting a full-ride scholarship to a top arts school.

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