Marisa Dipaola, USA / Portugal

Residency Period: 1 August 2016 - 31 July 2017


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.


On-hiatus Proposal Summary

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.

Final Report

After taking a little hiatus from being "on hiatus"
I have had a chance to reflect upon this past year:
how far we've come as moonfarmers,
and how wide open our future can be.

Or perhaps I haven't really been "on hiatus" at all.
Years ago, I did an oil painting of a little wooden cottage,
set amongst a flowering garden, aptly named "storybook cottage"
for its allusions to an imaginary, out-of-a-storybook world.
I eventually used the painting as a proposal sketch
for "storybook cottage" a knitted inhabitable playhouse sculpture
I (& Mohamed) made for an exhibition title "There's No Place Like Home"
at the Paul Robeson Gallery of Rutgers Newark, New Jersey, in 2013.

Coming together in the final moments, the sculpture was visually satisfying:
and at the opening, a hit with the toddlers (& their parents) visiting the exhibition.
But under its intricate surface, this knitted world was only an illusion,
and an indication of my desire for a real storybook cottage to inhabit.

So here we are.
This ongoing project,
or series of projects,
has only just begun.

And yes, I intend to keep some sort of online account
of how we are progressing, with all our various activities
(something I wouldn't have thought of doing without
the encouragement of the RFAOH community).

But this year being on hiatus has given me time to reflect on what else I can be,
how much further, and farther, my life can take me than simply being an artist.

And funny, everything I thought I'd be doing once I was "off" hiatus
(like keeping up with other correspondences & re-entering the art-world)
I hadn't really thought of lately.

Instead, I've been sitting in the shade watching our garden grow,
watching flower petals unfold and bees buzzing from blossom to blossom.
And watching the stars shine, and finally seeing the owl I'd been hearing lately.

Mohamed had recently told a lady,
who had asked if I had been painting,
that "yes, marisa has been painting with water..."
meaning that I had scattered seeds throughout our yard
and as I spray water across the land,
vibrant colors and forms come to life.

But now that it's August, I have really been "on hiatus" from technology,
including emails and taking photos (& apologies to my parents for that);
and instead, focused more on Marmalade's story-time and creative play
(which reminded me of the years ago I spent teaching arts to children
& the years before when I was Marmalade's age, in my own imaginary world),
and reading (especially as a new book on companion planting just arrived from my Dad),
and materials-collecting for our home and gardening projects.

We dug out all the collected glass bottles, driftwood,
seashells, colored stones, and the tangles of gathered fishing ropes,
to prepare our materials for newly repaired outdoor furnishings,
Marmalade's playhouse, our front porch, and bathroom remodeling projects.
And found another nearby trail within Bamboo Parque littered with fallen bamboo,
perfect to complete the outdoor kitchen area and the pergola over our front porch,
which now has three upright posts with three crossbeams.

And, for some time now, I've wanted to make a collection of wind chimes,
and with all the collected random materials, I can finally begin creating them.

And I dug out my oil paints and stash of brushes,
and began repainting a nasturtium painted on a found metal sign in Austria,
as its trailer trip out west last summer left it dirty, scraped, and stained.
Perhaps an apt metaphor for our journey to arrive here;
but I'm ready to move on, move forward,
and so repainting it with our garden's new blossoms.
Once finished, it will become decoration for our fence,
as another friendly welcome to the moonfarm.

And Marmalade and I begun our largest collaborative project yet,
repainting the back wall of our house, which, hopefully,
will soon become the inner wall of Marmalade's own bedroom.
Painting this mural reminds me that I truly love painting on walls;
and that although I am not just a painter, I do love painting.

(& I've wondered how I can share that love here;
& painting our house seems the first logical step.
Yet Marmalade's school, most of Zambujeira do Mar,
& the Casa Viva teahouse in Odemira all seem possibilities
to spread my colors further & to reach a wider audience;
something I imagine would unfold over the next few years.
& speaking of Casa Viva, we'll be there more often,
since Mohamed will be leading a weekly capoeira class there.
So painting their walls seems a very real possibility, too.)

We are also trying to get the place cleaned up a bit,
to feel like we've finally moved in and claimed our home
(& get it ready for a huge visit by Mohamed's family).

And I've been really busy with the bounty from our garden:
jars and jars of blackberry jam, applesauce, and pasta sauce.
With a growing pile of adorable summer and winter squash,
and bush beans, tomatoes, arugula, kale and cauliflower,
and kohlrabis, tomatillos, cucumbers, onions and pears
(which sliced thinly together make a lovely salad!)

And, as our summer harvesting is in full swing;
we are also getting the garden ready for the fall planting season.
We're putting in another few planting beds for an exciting collection of fall favorites: radishes, peas, onions, garlic, broccoli,
rainbow beets and carrots,
and including: fenugreek, red cabbage, celery, shallots, leeks and rutabaga,
that I've never grown before.

We arrived one full year ago,
as our first day in Portugal was Marmalade's third birthday.
This year we have so much to celebrate, so much growth, joy, and surprises.
Marmalade wished for a birthday picnic at the beach,
so we invited the Sebastians to come along,
for lunch and chocolate cupcakes by the sea;
not all that different than a scene from one of her storybooks.

While wandering our land harvesting all the ingredients for the garden salad,
I realized that our home really is out of a storybook:
over a river and through a bamboo forest...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

While our first residents were here in the early summer,
I really saw the potential the moonfarm has as a residency;
not just the location and tranquility and mild weather,
but the abundant found materials and room to experiment.

I've been on enough residencies
(& helped run Townhouse's while there)
to know that I would excel at running a residency,
and hope that the glassbottle construction for the ruin
gives the moonfarm the perfect place to welcome all creatives.

Yet being "off hiatus" hasn't given me any extra free time;
I still spend hours daily watering, cultivating, harvesting, and cooking.
And there's always dirty dishes and laundry piling up.
But the year "on hiatus" has kept me focused on our goals,
and helped me remember that although life is mostly out of our control,
we do have a little time and space to spread happiness
and make our world a little bit brighter.

Thank you for this incredible opportunity.
And please come back to the moonfarm.

With peace and love,
m, M, m (& tuna)




recent comments

frog songs & flowering food

Now that our pond is consistently full and continually bubbling,
our frogs seem contented and serenade us each evening.
(Well, actually, a little each morning, late-morning, & mid-afternoon, too.)

We definitely have three green tree frogs,
and also one larger striped frog,
that seems to be of the same species
as the frog in the well at our squatting spot in Rogil.
Since we aren’t frog experts,
we’re not sure what all their croaking is about:
communication for sure;
but is it for courtship and mating,
inviting neighboring frogs over for a party,
or just chit-chat about the changing weather?
Who can tell?

But they’re reassuring noises whenever we hear them;
along with the chattering of the songbirds each morning

and the high-pitched squeaks of the bats at twilight.

Otherwise our valley is pretty quiet most of the day,
except for the morning and afternoon commuters to bamboo parque,
and the hay man, the cow man, and the goat man
who all drive by a few times around midday.

Last Tuesday we had a Root trine,
during the tail end of transplant time.
So we cleared out a bit more of the garden
to put in 9 more potato sprouts and another row of onions.

The potato sprouts from last time have begun to leaf out,
and the beets from the first two plantings have all emerged.

And along with the flowering kale and arugula,

the broccoli raab and mustard have begun to blossom, too.

Otherwise, we’ve returned to mulching,
and finished covering the entire driveway
and now working on the walking paths
that meander up the hillside and toward the house.
During the rainy days, these paths got quite soggy and muddy,
and we noticed that where we had mulched the driveway,
the water ran underneath the mulch and made walking on top easier,
like walking on carpeting, so while there is still roadside mulch,
we decided to do all our walking paths.

In other news, we found some tadpoles swimming around
in the deep puddle over by the honeysuckle fence near the ruin.
There’s at least a dozen, perhaps more.
Since it was a small pond during the rains,
I’m sure they were quite comfortable,
but as it’s been drying up,
their oasis is quite murky.
So we’ve begun relocating the tadpoles to our pond.
Three moved the first day, and then a few more each day,
so far a dozen, but I thought I saw another in there yesterday.
(Update: turns out there were a few more; we’re up to fifteen!)

And since we had the time,
we had been doing some pruning,
mostly to free some cork oaks from shrubbery and other saplings.
We also have at least another dozen stone oak saplings to remove,
because they’re overcrowding our corks and fruit trees.
Some we hope to transplant, or gift to friends,
because we hate killing trees, and want to use their holes for planting in,
and because the trees aren’t large enough to be useful for firewood yet.

And over the long holiday weekend,
we’ve been baking, painting with Marmalade,

and back into the garden,
planting another batch of rainbow carrots,
and another two rows of rainbow beets
during Saturday’s Root time.

And giving all the planted seeds a good soaking.
Many seeds from the past few weeks have emerged:
aside from the rainbow beets and carrots,

purple kohlrabi, red swiss chard, garlic chives,
and a second batch of broccoli raab and spinach have all sprouted.

Also, a whole patch of something else has emerged
and is growing it’s second sets of leaves, but for the life of me,
I can’t remember what I might of planted there,
and don’t recognize these little plants at all.

Saturday night was a short Flower time,
so I planted a few lupines in our yard,
and potted up some of the purple artichokes.
(I had run an experiment with the artichoke seeds:
directly planting some in little pots in our cold frame,
and sprouting some in a wet towel before planting.
So far, nine of the sprouting dozen have sprouted,
so those I’ve potted up, and a few
have since emerged and leafed out.
Only one of the cold frame ones have sprouted so far,
though that could be due to the cold frame
being a bit cooler than my kitchen counter.)
Next Flower time, I’ll soak another dozen to sprout.
And then figure out where we can plant some more of them.
(I figure I’ll try to sprout about forty of them,
and then gift a few seeds each to friends with large yards.

Leave a Comment (2)

co-director (s) wrote on Mar 3:

Boy, frogs are the best. I really miss them. And great you rescued those tadpoles! Maybe I'll intern for you this summer

Lee wrote on Feb 27:

I love seeing your garden! It's -24 here and we are still very much in winter, but you are inspiring me to start some seeds. My boys and I love gardening so much, even though we garden in containers and a tiny strip in front of our window. We could use a boost to help us get through to our planting time - which is in early June!