Though Jasmine Dillavou prefers matte lipstick in her everyday makeup routine, her art required something different. “I wanted that greasy, glossy stuff,” she says. Cheap drugstore lipstick. (Only a handful of pieces were made using her own.)

Dillavou wears lipstick almost every day. “I love red lipstick,” she says. “I love how juicy and aggressive it is. I think it’s this incredible tool for masking and for highlighting things that make you feel good about yourself. It’s like war paint.”

Red lipstick has historical significance too, she reminds us. It’s been an indicator of social status and influence (dating back to Ancient Egypt and Cleopatra); at one point, it was associated with prostitution and sex work; and then later, as a symbol of freedom, worn by the suffragettes to express feminine power. For Dillavou, bringing lipstick into the studio as an artistic medium felt like a natural, and meaningful, progression.

Boca Sucia (“Dirty Mouth”), her exhibit at G44 Gallery, consists of “mini monologues,” “confessions” and “precious hieroglyphics.” Her process is simple: red and pink lipstick, on lips, on paper.


“Each piece is technically considered performance aftermath in that it’s performative in its creation,” says Dillavou. “And it’s active and it’s dance and it’s movement, and it’s all these things in its creation. But in its most general sense, it’s printmaking.”

You can see where her stories begin, where the lipstick ran out and where it was reapplied. From a distance, you might mistake it for abstract brushwork. “But when you get really close,” says Dillavou, “you can see all the typography of the cracks of the lips, and the way that the teeth hit the paper. Or the saliva, heat, water. It’s literally the body on paper. It’s pretty human.”

The composition of these works is certainly intriguing. In them, we witness a metamorphosis, a physical manifestation of oral histories — rhythmic, mesmeric, red.

Some are Puerto Rican recipes. Others are stories and phrases. “Each piece is like an individual investigation on storytelling and femininity, and softness and violence, and all these things that fall under the divine femme,” says Dillavou.


In one, the sentence “I miss you so much” materializes as a sequence of red marks, slightly off-center. “The space around it feels kind of lonely and open, which is sort of the feeling when you do miss someone so much ...,” says Dillavou. “And a lot of that is ‘pandemic brain,’ this distance that we feel. Longing and missing is something I’ve become so acquainted with in the past few years.” On paper, the words feel deliberate; the spacing, impulsive; and the yearning that ensues, inevitable.

Dillavou’s been an active participant in the Springs arts community since 2016, creating, curating and educating. She currently serves as the creative director for Ephemera and is a studio assistant for Senga Nengudi. She also teaches at the FAC’s Bemis School of Art. Making art is a privilege, says Dillavou, and “[w]ith that privilege, we then have the ability and responsibility to become community activists. Like, you are given a platform to share your ideas … how dare you not use that as something to uplift, highlight marginalized voices, create space for other people to feel safe to tell their stories, educate people — so that they, too, feel like they have that opportunity, that ability? It’s a ‘once you get the door open for you, it’s your job to hold it for the person behind you’ kind of thing.”

The RiP Improv


‘The RiP improv troupe has created unscripted laughs together for over twelve years and present short-form, long-form, and musical improvisational comedy that is sure to have you laughing until you cry!” Saturday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m., $15. Bring proof of vaccine or a negative test (within three days). Masks required indoors. Millibo Art Theatre, 1626 S. Tejon St. See the themat.org/rip-improv-2 for tickets and more info. (And mark your calendar for Heroes, a Millibo play that starts Jan. 20 and runs through Feb. 6.)

Colorado Indian Market & Southwest Art Fest


After 39 years in Denver, the festival is moving to the Colorado Springs Event Center (3690 Palmer Park Blvd.). The 40th annual cultural celebration will feature visual and performing arts — and Grammy-award nominees Michael Martin Murphey and Bill Miller. Friday, Jan. 14, through Sunday, Jan. 16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $15. See dashevents.com/productions/colorado-indian-market for tickets and more info.

Anna Fiorino is a graduate from San Diego State University. She is a journalist with (more than three but less than twenty) years of experience. In her free time, she edits novels.