Marisa Dipaola was born barefoot on December 12th, 1977, and grew up in the cedar swamps and coastal Atlantic of southern New Jersey. She graduated with honors from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2000 where she majored in painting and began experimenting with site-specific sculptural installations. Upon graduation, Marisa received a travel grant to study la Mezquita, in Cordoba, Spain, which began a collection of travels to eighteen countries, studying the sacred architecture and natural wonders, producing site-specific artworks in Japan and Iceland as well as entire series of artwork while on residence in Spain, India, Italy, Egypt, Austria, and Bahrain.
She has exhibited her works internationally at museums, galleries, universities, cultural institutions, community gathering places, outdoors within natural sculptural parks and urban revitalization projects.
In the course of being a nomadic artist, Marisa Dipaola has wandered throughout the landscape in diverse surroundings, constantly inspired by the natural world that embraces us all. After residing in the southern Austrian Alps for three years, she and her family are ready for a road trip to move to southern Portugal, in order to buy and renovate an old farm as a sustainable, permaculture project: moonfarmers. Raising her three-year old daughter while this major project is on the go, she is unable to foresee any free-time to take part in the artworld, at least for a year or so. Instead, she will dedicate her time and artistic effort to turning an abandoned property into a sustainable small farm and retreat, and quite possibly a future artist residency.
Her time will be spent with rebuilding a sustainable habitation, sourcing and planting fruit and nut trees, native edibles, sacred seeds, establishing berry patches, grape vines, mushroom patches, a chicken coop, a small fish pond, a huge vegetable patch. She will use sculptural elements to create terraced farming areas, enhance microclimates and enable year-round cultivation courtesy of cold frames fashioned from old windows as well as illuminating indoor growing areas, a few wind-chimes, alternative-energy-generating works, and the interior redesign & redecoration of their living space. On a more scientific front, she hopes to incorporate the skills she learns during this time to create various sculptural projects that encourage growth, combining illuminated works with fungal works and garden projects to create sustainable, living artworks. Any additional free time she finds will be spent mending clothes from the pile she’s had gathering for years and to complete more butterfly carpets -- and there is that quilt she has wanted to make for her bedroom.
She hopes that the time working and reflecting while on-hiatus from the artworld, but proceeding with her moonfarmers project will guide the future, whichever way it grows.
On Jul 31 2017, mathieu commented on revival: part IV: thank you for the reports and for the gorgeous photographs, your adventure is very inspiring![...]
On Jul 31 2017, co-director (s) commented on revival: part IV: I'm all choked up... July 31 happened to be my birthday too; what a last day! Thank you to you all!![...]
On Jul 31 2017, co-director (m) commented on revival: part IV: Thank you so much for your generous contribution to this project Marisa - and everyone (we know it's[...]
On Jul 30 2017, co-director (s) commented on revival: part three: One thing we regret not to have done sooner is to make the comment section capable of posting images[...]
On Jul 29 2017, marisa commented on revival: part one: Most of our gardening is playing the long-game
& indeed for the patient-hearted.
some of our tre[...]
friendly fish (& farmers)
Some neighbors and strangers have been incredibly welcoming and generous:
Last week, a few days after our arrival,
a farmer gave us one of his watermelons,
handing it down from his tractor.
Marmalade loves watermelon AND tractors,
so beyond a simple act of kindness
this becomes the most welcoming gesture one could possibly make to her.
And the fresh cool taste made us grateful to be living here.
Last night while at the beach,
a fisherman came over and asked if we were on holiday.
Mohammed said no, that we were looking to buy a farm and live here.
He nodded and handed Mohammed and Marmalade his bag with five fish inside.
Again, an act of welcoming beyond imagine,
as Mohammed had been homesick for saltwater fish.
Gutting, stuffing with spices, frying, and eating became a holy ritual,
returning him to himself, filling some emptiness inside.
You are what you eat, and they became a little more at home,
and this place became more of our home,
by being given them, and by eating them.
We are grateful.
We’re not sure of the species,
yet Mohammed had seen them alongside the rocks
when he went swimming with his mask last week…
now curious to go back and learn more about them,
and the other creatures living in this stretch of the ocean.
And yet, my time of welcoming was fast approaching:
one of our (temporary) neighbors, a farmer
with three (not so little) pigs, a field full of vegetables and lots of fruit trees,
invited us over to meet the pigs, and see his farm,
(and his well, which we can use to get buckets of water).
Near the pig enclosure, there were some butternut squash
growing on a vine along the ground.
Marmalade asked what they were, I replied “Kürbis”
as she is familiar with the German name for them,
(& it is one of my nicknames for her as well).
The farmer bent down and picked one, giving it to Marmalade to hold.
(As a vegetarian, this Kürbis is my saltwater fish,
which I typically make into a Caribbean-style squash & bean stew)
bringing a taste of my own liking into our temporary home.
He also dug some sweet onions, and picked peppers and tons of tomatoes,
which I’ve used to make some seawater pasta (recipes perhaps in later blog!)
The greatest gifts are those given openly from the heart,
and given to weary travelers who are trying to make a new life in a foreign land.
Added to the joy that all the produce was biologic/organically grown,
a warm thanks to the pigs for supplying the fertilizer.
Possibly a leopard frog, or a close cousin,
it loves to lay in the drainage tube
or sun itself on the nearby cement,
lying in quiet wait of some prey.
Every time I approach, it jumps into the well.
I’ve gotten stealthier, and perhaps its gotten more trusting…
either way I’ve been hoping to catch it within a photograph.
Or better yet, a video.
Luckily, this morning, I noticed it was a bit slower to descend.
So around noon, I took my tablet over for another try at capturing it,
and saw that it was distracted by two dragonflies hovering overhead.
I’m not sure I have gained its trust quite yet,
but I’m grateful to be able to share this scene with you,
From the first sploosh during our first arrival,
I’ve been curious to really get to know it, befriend it even,
reminded of a passage in the writings of Chuang Tzu:
“Haven’t you ever heard about the frog in the caved-in well?
He said to the great turtle of the Eastern Sea,
‘What fun I have!
I come out and hop around the railing of the well,
or I go back in and take a rest in the wall where a tile has fallen out.
When I dive into the water,
I let it hold me up under the armpits and support my chin,
and when I slip about in the mud,
I bury my feet in it and let it come up over my ankles.
I look around at the mosquito larvae and the crabs and polliwogs
and I see that none of them can match me.
To have complete command of the water of one whole valley
and to monopolize all the joys of a caved-in well–
this is the best there is!”
(it goes on, with the turtle of the Eastern Sea informing the frog that
the Eastern Sea is a far greater world than the one the frog has mastered.
An ancient version of calling out the frog’s “big fish in a small pond” mentality.
But I include this verse as an act of compassion to this frog,
a tribute to living in this almost abandoned well,
waiting for the rains, waiting for food to fly by;
somewhat nervous about my semi-constant visits.
I wouldn’t want to be the frog, I’m too nomadic, I guess;
but like many of the farmers we’ve met here,
who’ve spent their whole lives mastering their fields and waiting for the rains,
I enjoy their home and am glad that they enjoy living here.)
On our second day here,
about halfway on our way to the beach,
we noticed a “Vende” sign on a smaller farmland
and decided to stop on the return trip;
the field was full of goats, each with a bell chiming around its neck.
An old goatherd was watching them very intimately, calling them by name;
we were totally entranced by their chimes.
2.3 hectares, grazing land split by a dirt road,
with a wall of a ruin set far back on the property,
tucked away near the back in the shade.
Not sure the price, the goatherd did not know,
we will call the number listed but have to wait for phone credit.
It isn’t quite enough land for all three families,
but it is really lovely, and might serve us well.
Once we got credit, we sent a message inquiring of the price.
Tiago responded, but gave us no sense of the price he was expecting.
We made an offer, but haven’t received a response.
Nonetheless, we pass by everyday,
enjoying the música das cabras.
which Marmalade says looks like a hedgehog,
stuck on the ceiling in the ruin, our new habitation,
with three baby birdies that occasionally pop their heads out.
The parents nervously fly in and circle,
once crashing into each other in their panic on seeing us;
but occasionally they forget their fear and enter their nest to feed their young.
At first we were a bit concerned that the wouldn’t land with us here,
so we would leave the space when they repeatedly tried to enter;
but I’m happy to report that they have normalized to our presence a bit,
and now spend more time here while we were here.
(Upon arrival, I had said “I miss our garden balcony,”
a magical space inhabited not only by the flowers and fruits planted,
but frequented by a steady stream of pollinators,
and earlier this Spring, a family of blackbirds,
(funnily, one of the young flopped inside
and scuttled down the hallway during flight lessons),
and afterwards, in the same nest, a family of sparrows.
I missed having a place to call home, even temporarily.
But by evening, seeing all the creatures occupying this ruin,
I felt quite at home again.)
I enjoy camping, real unplugged camping,
because the outside world becomes your living room,
and all sorts of creatures come to visit.
The last time we had been camping was July 2014,
in Rote Wald, an old growth forest in Steirmark, Austria.
Upon waking and unzipping the tent in the morning,
we were delighted to see a dozen snails had called our tent home
and camped out with us. A few were even stuck to my sandals.
Also that morning, I had an enchanted moment with a butterfly,
who landed on me and hung out for a while, following along in the forest.
But back to here and now, the parents have been back in the nest
a few more times in the time it’s taken to write this;
so I guess things will be fine for the “birdies in the hedgehog”
Greetings & Welcome to our Residency for Artists on Hiatus project: moonfarmers!
Currently we are camped out in Rogil, southern Portugal,
on a chunk of farmland that we intended to buy, awaiting word from the two German families who will also be moving here from Austria.
The property description said 5.48 hectares of farmland, partly forested, 600m from ocean. However, upon arrival, we saw that the forested part of the farmland had been logged, clearcut & burned, for a quick profit for the sellers, I suppose; the land looks devastated, leaving scattered charred pinecones and tree stumps, and bleached and empty snail shells. But without the woods, I doubt we will buy it, as the trees, and the shade they’d provide, were one of the main reasons we selected this property; that are the proximity to the beach. So we will continue looking for other farms for sale in the area; yet we will continue camping out here for the next two weeks, until one of the families arrives to confer and decide where we will actually live.
Sorry, I suppose an introduction is in order: my name is marisa dipaola. I have been living a nomadic existence since leaving R.I.S.D. in 2000. I have also been living a scattered life; some places a painter, a sculptor, an installation artist, a fiber artist, a costume designer, and, while living in Cairo a dozen years ago, I taught an experimental drawing workshop for relocated Sudanese and Nubian artists. I have traveled a lot, mostly beginning journeys through Artists Residency programs, sometimes extending my stay, and while at Al Riwaq, in Bahrain, meeting my husband, Mohammed, a scuba diver, comic artist, all around incredible guy; who shortly after our six week camping roadtrip honeymoon, decided to go back to school. So we spent the past three years in Villach, Austria, while he got his Masters in Biomimetics. It was lovely there, and our daughter, Marmalade, was born there; but we both grew up on the sea and missed the salt water. So we packed up and left, driving 40 hours southwest to the edge of Europe, to buy farmland and start a new life. I had been painting at the Karawanserie, an alternative community space in Villach, where we met Astrid and Petra, and their families, who will be joining us here in Portugal.
Over the next week, we plan to bike around the nearby neighborhoods, looking for other places for sale, hopefully with more trees and with more land. In the meantime, I will try to get these posts online, yet technology has been somewhat challenging, as we have been powering all our devices (phones, tablet, camera & mini projector) with 2 small solar panels that we plug into; however, much of the charge goes towards Marmalade’s daily dose of cartoons, currently “Masha & Medbedb” which she lovingly calls ” Masha & Mishka.”