Crafting a Community of Culture | Jasmine Dillavou ’16

One of Colorado Springs’ newest artists isn’t one to paint with a broad brush, or even paint much at all. But that hasn’t stopped Jasmine Dillavou ’16 from becoming an agent of change in the community. 

Becoming a full-time artist just one year removed from her time as a Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) student at UCCS, Dillavou says she feels incredibly lucky, but also feels an instilled duty to her community. 

“Ever since graduating, I feel like I’ve had all this momentum and I don’t want to let it go,” she said just after her latest showcase debuted at the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR).   

Between curating shows for local and successful artists and featuring her own sculpting and collage work, Dillavou has helped create and lift off the ground two nonprofits focused on the Colorado Springs community, including GLO, a group focused on supporting women of color, and Non-Book Club Book Club (NBCBC), a group focused on community idea swapping.  

“Attending UCCS really pushed me to start reaching out to the broader community,” she said. “UCCS was my community, and now I’m adjusting to this new world.” 

Part of her drive to create a tight-knit group of artists and lesser represented community members is due to her upbringing in a household with a single, Latina mother. 

“It’s been very cool to dive into my heritage through my art and understand my mom’s history and reconnect with my family,” Dillavou said. “The base of all my work is about not just telling my story but trying to tell the stories that are quieted.”  

Her work keeps her busy, as she says modern artists have to hustle more than ever to make a living. She believes UCCS and the VAPA program prepared her for life after college. 

“The VAPA program is so real. It’s such a physical program that puts you right in the space, and I didn’t see that at other universities,” she said. “It felt like home, if home was a place where they would kick my butt until I made amazing stuff.” 

She continues to interact with former professors and the campus community. To Dillavou, the community is the most motivating aspect of the university.   

“UCCS has real people who go to school,” she said. “There are activists, working people, diverse groups. That’s true all the way through. These are real people. These are my people.”  

It’s not always easy to be an artist, Dillavou said, so she offered up advice to any person contemplating these studies. 

“It’s easy to push inward but the most important thing is reaching out to your community and asking for help, keeping your feet in the broader community. If not for your own sake, for the sake of your fellow artists.”