By: Jasmine Maldonado Dillavou
Over six-months-ago, Puerto Rico was hit with one of the largest catastrophes the island has ever seen. Destroying thousands of homes, leaving folks without electricity and clean water, Hurricane María wiped out normal life for the entirety of the island.
When I first heard the news that the Hurricane hit, I was sitting in a coffee shop with my friends. First, it was my mom’s phone call, then Facebook messenger, then my PR friends and then… everyone else. This was a special sort of panic as we began to realize that nobody could get through to the island. Nothing feels as helpless as truly knowing there’s absolutely nothing you can do.
It seemed like for weeks, it’s all anyone could talk about. We were donating, talking, sharing ideas and mailing supplies. People from all different cities, countries and communities gathered to help. Then, as it goes with all tragedies in contemporary time, it all stopped. Nobody wanted to listen, nobody wanted to help. It felt like yelling into a dark abyss. I felt alone in trying to reach out to our friends in P.R. There is an unshakeable distance when you live far from the island. Especially in times like this.
I’m an artist and a Boricua Bruja. I am an expert in those two things. I only know what my ancestors have taught me. I don’t have the answers for solving crises, I don’t know how to raise money or help people far away. But I do know art, I do know magic and where those two things intersect is where 100 Potions for Puerto Rico exists.
Over the next five months, I will be creating ninety potions. Each potion is a blessing or spell for my friends and family living on the island. Simple, glass jugs will be transformed with assemblage, found-object, written poetry and collected herbs. Many of the potions will hold narratives about the history of P.R. where some hold direct magical blessings. Each is an artistic response to what I have felt so terribly distanced from.
Ten of the potions I am mailing to individuals in Puerto Rico and Boricuas living in the Diaspora. Each person will receive an empty potion bottle to fill with their own magical story. Either a response to Hurricane María, a magical incantation, story or poetic symbols about themselves. This is a chance to highlight real people in a real place, no news headlines or Facebook posts. Once they are returned, all one-hundred potions will be displayed for a fundraising exhibition here in Colorado Springs at the Kreuser Gallery. This is an opportunity to bring activism into the gallery in a direct way.
Through art, we can breach audiences and we can bring our community together in unique and beautiful ways. We are a family, us Boricuas, no matter how far spread out we are. We must take care of each other. This feels like the best way I can do that, by keeping these narratives alive and sending all the magic into the world that I can.
If you’d like to receive one of the empty potion bottles to be part of the “100 potions for Puerto Rico”, please email me at JasmineDillavou@gmail.com. All shipping will be paid for and a personalized gift will be returned to you.
Jasmine Dillavou is a Boricua Bruja Artivist from Colorado Springs, where she currently lives and works. Her passions lie in documenting the personal and quiet experience of Latinas living in the diaspora.