If you consider yourself familiar with the festival circuit, you have more than likely come across the incredibly enticing work of an artist collective known as the Jenkstars. Founded on the belief that art opens minds, and thus can ultimately transform the world, this team of builders, thinkers, designers and performers come together to do just that; to create inspirational designs that encourage the viewer to take a deeper, more meaningful look. The best part of all, is that they only use thrown away materials, or ‘jenk’, as they call it, in order to birth something completely unique and beautiful. Only using solar and wind power for their events, the Jenkstars are on a mission to alter the course of how we’ve come to view discarded objects.
At the risk of sounding too serious, let’s take a step back and get into the core of what the Jenkstars are really all about; having good, clean fun. My first encounter with this wonderful troupe was at Electric Forest in 2013. Wandering through the Sherwood forest, there are a plethora of treasures for one to feast their eyes upon, including delicate flower petal paths, human nests, and awe-inspiring stilt walkers who are set on making your acquaintance.
Under the heavy influence of sensory overload, none of these prepared me for my walk into the SolLun, one of the Jenkstars prized touring installations. Upon taking my first few steps inside, I could barely take in what I had just stumbled into before I was approached by a strange man with a friendly face, whom I had never met before.
He waved a thick Bible, his eyes wild and his moves frantic, as he began preaching to myself, as well as other attendees who had found themselves walking in. Other members of the congregation, waving Southern fans at the imaginary heat, wiping sweat from their brows, encouraged him. Shouts of ‘preach on, brother!’ and stomping feet and clapping hands riled him up as he went on. The looks on our faces showed there was a common feeling of bewilderment as we all laughed and embraced our confusion. The walls were covered in picture frames of Jesus Christ, staggering bookshelves and a pianist played authentic Gospel.
The ceiling, made of stained glass, allowed sunshine to fall in naturally from above. Within the next five minutes we were in thrown into a completely different realm, as the back wall of the SolLun, which faced the entrance, swiveled to reveal a wall of liquor bottles and spirits ready to pour. I watched as a sign next to the pianist, reading ‘CHURCH’ was flipped over, now reading ‘BAR’. The Church had been just a front, and we were now inside of an 1920’s era speakeasy. This easily became my fondest memory of EF, and made coming back the next year an unquestionable decision.
Throughout the weekend, the SolLun served as our ultimate relaxing oasis, where you could find impromptu dance parties, have your fortune read through tea grinds or chat it up with the friendly Jenkstar members themselves, who were relentless in their acting, absolutely refusing to break character. It was during this weekend that I was introduced to the mission of the Jenkstars, and completely fell in love.
This team invokes magic and purpose with every project, making them one of the most inspirational forces we’ve come across. Raising a sense of inner responsibility and communal pride, we cannot wait to see just what the Jenkstars will come up with next, and plan to have the time of our lives following their triumphs and sharing them with you!