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

revival: part two

In all the excitement of the new life water has brought to the garden,
I’ve neglected to mention all the new growth on the upper hillside.

The citrus trees are really enjoying their new watering system,
with several, including our lime, now sprouting out new leaves;
and the tangerines on the tangerine tree are growing bigger and shapelier.


And the hazelnut tree has new leaves and has pushed out its catkins!

The nine blueberries all have new growth: new leaves sprouted on all
and whole new branches have emerged on a few that were suffering before.

And back downhill, the three cranberries really enjoy their new home,
and are sprouting new leaves and buds.
(Flower buds, perhaps?)

The most recently planted golden raspberry plants have grown incredibly
and have now ripened their first tasty berries.

Behind the house, the maracuja is still flowering and forming fruits,
with at least a dozen maracujas growing large and healthy on the vines!

And in Horta Nova, the first five hokkaido squash are growing nicely.

And the strawberry popcorn has sprouted its silks!

Cool, huh?

And we have more watermelons forming on the last one that we planted
(which is good because we picked & ate our first two yummy watermelons:
the first small watermelon I picked because it had split from a nick in its rind).

In the garden, I harvested the organic cilantro seeds during Leaf time,
and pulled and replanted some more homegrown arugula seeds near the newest pond.

Funnily, the last cauliflower (from last fall’s planting) has finally begun to take off.

The tomatoes are all busy making blossoms and ripening tomatoes, that we pick daily;
the two orange pepper plants have little peppers where their flowers once were;

and the miniature Mexican cucumbers are in full cucumber-making mode,
with four mini cucs ready for harvest and tons of little ones on the way.

And the Calabacita squash has a little squash, behind an adorable flower bud;

and we picked the first blue ballet winter squash,
with another ripening, and another on the way.

As we flip over into Fruit time (& transplanting time),
the last thirteen corn got moved into their new home,
completing Horta Nova’s summer planting (along with a few Violetta beans to keep them company).

And the four green tomato seedlings, and an eggplant,
and a tomatillo, have all found new sites in the garden boxes.

And the prickly pear (from our teacher’s garden) now lives on the hillside.

Since this Fruit time is also the Leo moon seed time,
I have been harvesting a lot of sunflower seeds from our best edible sunflowers;
and tried planting some sesame seeds and more quinoa in the garden,
where the carrots and garlic were harvested in the last few weeks.

(The quinoa from the Spring planting suffered a bit from the heat
& being overcrowded & shaded by other overeager veggies,
so this time I think I’ve chosen a better spot.)

I’ve been researching and brainstorming different planting combinations,
not only for companion plantings (though that’s been my focus),
but also rotational- figuring out what should be planted in sequence:
like today’s planting of Violetta climbing beans at the bases of the old sunflowers,
so that the beans can climb up the stalks and nurture the soil for next Spring’s crops;
and more commonly, planting different plant families for several consecutive years;
and, borrowing an idea from Biodynamic farming,
rotating through the different plant types:
following Leaf crops with Root crops,
following Root crops with Fruit crops, and so on,
the premise being that the the Leaf plants were using the upward, leafy energy
and weren’t using the downward energy that the following Root crop will need.
So the arugula patch will become our fall’s carrot and beet patch,
and this morning, the previous carrot and beet patch
became our new tomatillo and quinoa spot.
I’ll be doing a lot more research, and planting trials,
over the next few years, decades, whenever.

Oh, before we flip out of Fruit time tonight,
I planted another dozen chickpeas in between the tomatoes,
planted a few Madeira banana seeds into a flowerpot,
and transplanted the nespera sapling and a small gooseberry plant
(a sucker that I accidentally uprooted while weeding the gooseberry this Spring).

And I made mini blackberry-apple pies,
with apples from our teacher’s trees and blackberries from the Sebastians’ yard.

Leave a Comment (0)