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[...]
meeting our neighbors: part two
So, I realized that in the last post
I neglected to mention some of the neighbors we’ve discovered:
we found two different snakes on our property
(one very large mostly greenish one that was sunning itself in our front yard
and a thinner green & black one that was snoozing in our storage shelf,
that we originally thought was a length of hose, until it moved!)
and two smallish lizards that were hanging out in our bathroom,
(one jumped down & hid in the sink’s drain when we went to photograph them,
we’re not sure when or how they got back outside,
but we think we saw one of them a few days later),
and most excitingly, a tree frog! Super cute, sorry no photos.
(I had made a quilt square in elementary school of a tree frog for an endangered animal project & was amazed to see that this frog looked exactly the same as the one I made.)
The pears are starting to feel like neighbors too.
Each morning, when taking Nutella out,
we stop by under the pear tree to see who is ripe and ready for breakfast.
Nutella really likes pears, so she excitedly paws at my ankles the whole walk back.
She also fancies the persimmons,
as do I. These taste like mangoes,
much better than others I’ve tried before.
And I’ve found more Parasol mushrooms growing on our hillside,
and another giant bolete growing near one of our cork oak trees
(I thought it was a large rock until I touched it & it was soft & leathery smooth,
so I looked under its cap to verify that yes, it’s another edible bolete.
Oh, we met more of our human neighbors as well.
Randomly, while at the supermarket,
an elderly couple came up to us and asked if they were our neighbors.
Indeed, we verified that they live in the next house up the hill from us.
A retired British woman and her Dutch husband,
who used to run an International School in Lisbon.
Very friendly, they even said they will bring down children books
for Marmalade that their grandchildren have outgrown.
We live on a winding dirt road,
that leaves our tiny town, goes past a sheep farm and then heads downhill,
the road zigs to the left and then to the right and flattens out at our driveway,
then crosses the stream through the bamboo and climbs a steep, steep hill
out of the valley and through more bamboo.
So we don’t get a lot of traffic,
and began waving to everyone that drives by
as soon as we started camping here.
Most people have been waving back,
and some actually slow down to wave at Marmalade,
and catch our attention if inside to come to the doorway to wave.
So our neighbors must’ve recognized us from us waving at them,
though I can’t remember when we might’ve seen them.
I’m sure as we get the yard more habitable,
and put up more sculptures and paintings,
more people will actually stop by.
But for now,
we are waist-deep in yard work
and up to our elbows in house repairs,
so waving has been a fun way to introduce ourselves to the neighborhood.
Last night I received this email from a dear friend and fellow American artist:
“we’re all in deep mourning, horror, dismay, over the election results.
It feels like we’re about to return to the Dark Ages,
and I should start making ceramic tablets,
imprinted with whatever knowledge we have,
and burying them for future generations.
didn’t realize the apocalypse was scheduled so soon…..
how are you doing with this?”
I thought I’d share excerpts from my reply,
because I suppose these things must be said,
and I’ve included so much of our eventful week:
Do not despair.
Because you have a lovely grandchild on the way!
Luckily they are tucked away in a liberal haven in the Pacific Northwest.
Have you finished the new quilt?
But, I really do like the ceramic tablet idea.
Put your frustration into your work.
Your work is very powerful.
History not learned repeats itself.
And here we are.
(You didn’t know me back then,
but when we invaded Iraq, in 2004,
I looked for residencies in the Mid-East,
settling on the Townhouse Gallery, in Cairo, Egypt,
because I admired the artists there,
and really liked the work they were creating.
I had to get away from the hate,
and at that time, I was in Boston,
and Boston was full of hate. Proud of their hate.
I spent that 9/11 in Nuweiba, on the Red Sea,
on the beach with Egyptians and Israelis.
That was our protest of the ongoing wars.
And the ongoing hate.)
You asked how we are coping…
We are just fine.
Grateful to be here,
tucked away in a bamboo valley,
in the middle of nowhere, really,
across the sea from all the commotion.
We started our day by singing the Abc song,
over and over again, while still laying in bed,
using your quilt to point out the letters to Marm.
(It’s really funny how she sings along,
confusing H for 8, & I for 9,
so it becomes A, B, C, D, E, F, G, 8, 9, J, K, LmnoP…
Marmalade made a friend yesterday,
Actually we all made friends yesterday.
During the day of despair,
we went to a nearby seaside town to buy a used car,
that just happened to be owned by
the only Moroccans in this part of Portugal.
They are really nice, really friendly people,
who even had us over for lunch.
And they have a son, Said,
who is only 4 months older than Marmalade,
and attends the local kindergarten,
which Marmalade will attend someday.
Marmalade and Said get along really well.
We all get along really well.
Malika works for the local Driscoll’s berry farm,
as a Portuguese-English translator for the Nepalese laborers.
Her husband Ali is a fisherman, and works at the fishmarket.
Malika gave me a bunch of persimmons and boxes of frozen berries.
So I made a small batch of jam today, jarred up half,
and saved the rest for a cheesecake topping.
Because I’ve been craving cheesecake for awhile now,
and the berries have me feeling inspired.
So this weekend when Malika, Ali & Said come over
to see our new house, we will share cheesecake.
Because love trumps hate.
Otherwise, we’ve been homebodies when we can,
fixing up our fixer-upper. It needs a lot of work!
Mohamed has been trying to streamline the water system.
I’ve been putting up the tiles on the wall behind our wood stove.
And hanging up some paintings, so it feels more like home.
And gardening. And foraging!
Tonight I made pasta with a pesto sauce,
using arugula picked today from our garden
and a parasol mushroom plucked from near the stream.
Honestly, I sorta saw this coming…
I was ready for a Bernie revolution,
but I knew the country was more willing for the Dark Ages.
I always had friends of every shape and color,
and saw that they were treated like they lived in a different world.
I didn’t want Mohamed to experience any of that while he was there,
so I was very protective of him, sheltering even.
I didn’t want Marmalade to grow up in that kind of environment, either.
Sure, she can pass as a “real American”
but we were trying to find a more welcoming, accepting world to call home.
The Portuguese are lovely, laid-back, down to Earth people.
We are happy to have them as neighbors.
We hope to have more as friends.
If the feces hits the fan and there’s too much splatter,
you can always come here to avoid the debris.
Our goal is to renovate our ruin to be a guesthouse,
for family, friends, and as an artist’s retreat,
so please feel very welcome to come as all three!
We choose this place for its potential as a refuge,
from whatever political, environmental, or natural disaster the world suffers.
Originally, I though Mohamed’s family might need the retreat,
from their small, entirely sea level island in the Persian Gulf,
that always seems on the brink of getting swallowed up by Saudi agression.
My father mentioned, back in May, that if Trump got elected,
he’d be joining us in Portugal, as the laws for retiring here are quite welcoming.
I thought, great, Marmalade would love having the company.
But he was making a joke, I think.
I don’t think my parents thought this could happen.
I guess there is a lot of shock going around.
Mohamed just told me that there were protests!
and keep your head above whatever is getting thrown around.
We shall overcome.
We love you.