SO IT STARTS WITH A HOUSE.
Or maybe a clothesline, draped with brown sweaters; or maybe acrylic paint on the cheeks; or maybe a new friend; or maybe a garden.
Some came for the jazz and homemade bread; some came for glittery cheeks, for do-si-doing on the lawn to folk music; some came to tuck fat blossoms into wire crowns, dangle their feet off the porch with friends.
Others came for the house, to rehaunt all the rooms they once called home, see Synergy’s new paintings and old, worn couches. Some stayed for the night, when a couch dissolved into a flaming pyre, and the party dissolved into drumbeats, dancing, and whooping.
No matter the reason, myriads of Synergy residents, alumni, house-lovers, and curious students have streamed up Cooksey Lane for decades to attend Synergy Co-Op’s annual 24-hour festival, Lovely Spring Day (formerly known as Beltane.) Historically established as a Pagan celebration, this year’s festival included a maypole, a backyard yurt, and plenty of good music.
Senior Jules Espero’s Lovely Spring Day story is one of love and creation. A Synergy resident and longtime friend of the house, this year she gave back to the community by selling shirts inspired by all the art made at last year’s Beltane. “After reflecting through all the beautiful things that people made for Beltane last year, I was thinking about… my place in the world at the time,” she explains. “There was a beautiful mirror next to my bed, and I was thinking about what… I have to offer the world, especially as a brown woman of color.”
In the spirit of Lovely Spring Day, Jules’s response was uniquely personal and bold. Drawing from the likes of Keith Hering and Jean-Michelle Basquiat, she decided it was time for her own physicality to take center stage in art. “What I want to see more of is women of color using their features in art. So you’ll notice on my shirt, there’s big lips, there’s a flat nose, and long eyelashes. Those are abstract features of my face.” Right there on her bed, she sketched herself, with paper and orange highlighter. That sketch later became the heart of the shirt design, with help from some mentors and friends. “I had thrown away so much of my art before. I decided to take it more seriously, and I realized that one day I’ll know how to use Illustrator or make Vector art. I’m gonna make this a shirt.”
According to Jules, you cannot tell the story of the shirts without Synergy. “Even in the design, my face is kind of similar to the house. I imagine the eyes as...the Synergy window, which has the triangles and the different colors.” Encouragement from the Synergy community helped manifest the design into fashion. “I think [reception of the shirts] has been honestly really good. I was really nervous to make them at first. Living in Synergy… [seeing] that people love [my design] gave me a lot of energy to make my own shirts, with my art, that people might wanna buy.”
The words “We are happening right here right now” are scrawled on the shirt, rising like smoke from the face’s mouth. Jules wants people to embrace this message. “There’s so many things happening in the world right now. People are thinking about graduation, like, ‘who am i going to be in two years?’ Who are you going to be right now? What are you going to bring to this space and what’s the kind of energy that you have and are you going to be your best self? That’s the message I want to give through these shirts.”
Jules’ LSD popup this year featured inflatable unicorn floaties and a kiddie pool. While we spoke, licks of jazz saxophone rose into the air like plumes of fire, floated, vanished; she smoked a cigarette and draped her arms over one of the floaties. Our feet were bare. Staring somewhere over my head, she ruminated on the driving forces behind her project. “That’s kind of, like, the point of it,” she decided. “Just celebrating my friends and having a good time.”
Jules's designs are available for order at https://julespools.bigcartel.com/
Photographed by: Hannah Scott
Written by: Annie Zheng
PULSE thanks Jules Espero for her time.