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

wild enough

So the wildflowers are incredible.

And it turns out that a lot of the shrubby things in our yard
are all related species of wild flowering shrubs,
the largest (& most exquisite) of these are the sea roses.

But there are also flowering orchid relatives and little wildflowers,
and a whole lot of lavender, flowering profusely.

And although not a wildflower,
the tangerine tree has begun to blossom.

And one of the eight blueberry bushes.

Getting our yard and garden ready for Springtime
has been exhausting, yet rewarding…
(& a good mental break for the mentally broke)

Oddly enough, one of the common “weeds” in our garden are calla lilies.
They are strangely stunted, because I had pulled some of their first leaves
before realizing what they were.
They were my grandmother’s wedding bouquet.
And I’m sure she’d be delighted to see them here.

The pond is flowing nicely, the frogs are less bashful,
and we’ve added five fish (3 goldfish & 2 koi) to our pond;
so now our pond visits have even more searchable creatures.

While we were adding the fish,
we actually got a glimpse of one of the tadpoles.
We had wondered what became of them,
and were kinda worried that one of the larger frogs might’ve eaten them
(if frogs would even do that), but at least a few have survived and are in fine form.

Also, we got a waterlily from our friend’s pond,
that seems to have transplanted nicely,
and showed off its first bloom.

Sapo, our toad, has been making almost nightly appearances.
Last night it was sitting in one of the yogurt cups
that I had planted with orange bell pepper seeds,
so I asked it to move along, which it did obligingly,
probably because I was shining the lantern on it.
After it moved aside, it crept into a crack on the porch,
seemingly to be living in the cavern of a cinderblock.
It is quite large, with very muscular arms and legs,
which it moves with silent precision
(well, except when it scuttles over the wood chips, then it is quite loud).
So cool.

Otherwise, all our lizards are out and about,
scurrying across our walls and chimney,
and just plain sunning themselves.
They are still quite shy,
perhaps because we get excited to see them
and the excitement startles them.
Also, they are getting quite large.
And I’ve been even catching glimpses of one in the garden.

And while checking over at Nutella’s grave,
I saw a snake swerve over and into the nearby undergrowth.
The Hopi consider snakes the messengers to the Earth Mother,
as they travel into the underworld.

Last week we had a bunch of Root days,
and Mohamed’s father was in a getting-things-done mood,
so he helped Mohamed begin building Marmalade’s playhouse

(using all the scraps we’d been scavenging these past months)
and a pergola for over the outdoor kitchen area.
Meanwhile I had twisted my ankle and wasn’t very mobile,
but still busy preparing for a short and busy Flower transplanting time.

At first, I had 10 artichokes and a few climbing flowers to transplant,
but then we bought a Lantana flowering bush and two passionflower vines.
Then, while down in Rogil, for lunch at Batata Doce, we stopped by a garden shop
and got a wisteria, a jasmine, and a maracuja (passionfruit vine).

And some more of the blue ballet winter squash seedlings were ready for the ground,

as were a few more organic sunflower seedlings.
So we had a lot of transplanting to do.

We had a really eventful long holiday weekend.
On Saturday was Sebastian’s 5th birthday party,
and Sunday was Easter Sunday, and we had holiday breakfast at home.
And so taking the advice from Lee (“fake it til you make it”)
I helped Marmalade dye Easter eggs and sing bunny songs.

Monday we went to Nova Tero:
a horse (& goat & sheep) farmstead
run by a vegan German couple
who recently relocated from the Canary Islands,
where climate-change induced wildfires burned their forest home.
(Mohamed met them because we bought a solar inverter from them,
& befriended them & was curious to see their land & animals.)
They live an hour and change away, really in the middle of nowhere
(I thought we were kinda in the middle of nowhere,
but we can conveniently get to a market & a town, which they cannot).
The Sebastians came, too, partly so we could help each other find the place.
But mostly because they love horses, were curious to see Nova Tero,
and Marmalade and Sebastian play really well together.
I went because Marmalade asked me to.
Otherwise, I would’ve stayed at home,
as I haven’t been feeling very social.

Now we’re thankfully back home,
and back to our normal, quiet life fixing up the house and the garden.
The garden is getting huge,
and several plants are ready for harvest:

especially the broccoli and spinach,
with mustard greens and onions harvested for most of our meals.
And the peas are getting plump, so soon they’ll be ready too!

After some Fruit time cutting a fig branch to root,
and planting quinoa, yellow wax beans, and Auskernbohnen beans from Austria;
and planting strawberry seeds, Calabacita (round zucchini),
and a few more watermelon, eggplant and tomato seeds,
it has flipped over to Root time.

So we are building a trellis support for the maracuja and passionflower vines.
And since the temperature has dropped back to normal,
I started painting the house trim blue.
It’s nice to be painting again.

Over the next few weeks, we will paint the whole exterior of the house,
before all the planted climbing vines start climbing up the walls.
So I decided to get started.

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