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 three

The changeover to Root time ushered in the onion harvest:
in the morning, I picked a few bunches of onion seeds
from the blossoms I left for the pollinators (the others I had infused in sesame oil);
and in the late afternoon, I pulled all the remaining onion bulbs that I had sown last fall,
so maybe four dozen onions, that are now curing on top of the Naturkeller.

I also harvested the remaining few garlics that had flowered
and formed tiny little bulblets (which I assume are seeds) at their tops.
I was told years ago, while at a farmers’ market in Vermont,
that if you planted these you get a garlicky tasting “grass”
that can be eaten much like the garlic scape that produced them.
So I’ve planted a few of these bulblets from the first garlic I harvested,
just to see what happens. (I’m assuming they’d eventually form a garlic clove.)

And I transplanted another orange sweet potato cutting that had sprouted;
and, because I was told to do so by Tío Bee-o, the friendly farmer in Rogil,
I snipped a runner off one of the batata doce (“sweet potato” but really a yam)
plants and replanted it in a nearby vacant spot in the garden.

This is a long, full four-days of Root time,
which gives us a nice opportunity to complete some ongoing on-the-ground projects.
Such as redoing the plumbing on the hillside to give us access to our new bio-fertilizer tank
(salvaged from the woods when Mohamed built the dam at the water source),
and laying out another old hose to be the irrigation hose for the blueberries,
so the arduous job of watering all the blueberries (& fruit trees on the hill)
is now simply switching over hoses from the junction on top of the hillside.

We set another post into the trellis for the maracujas,
because their tendrils have been spreading every which way,
and they needed more spaces to climb to envelop the chimney.

And we started working on the pergola for the front porch,
starting with the first two bamboo posts for the far end,
as we needed the support for the Violetta beans growing amidst the thyme
since they have far surpassed the small bamboo stake in their flower pot.

We’ve been setting stones to make a heart-shaped little patio in Horta Nova
next to the tadpole pond where it often floods and otherwise becomes a mud puddle.

In the shade, during the heat of the day,
we finally moved the dry composting toilet outside,
making a semi-private outhouse against the tree line.
(Mohamed always wanted an outdoor toilet,
so he’d have an incredible view while pooping.
I view our outhouse as an easier way to pee while out gardening,
an extra toilet for busy times, & super convenient for any campers or visitors.
& an alternative for when we finally undertake moving the septic system,
& finish renovating the bathroom, especially the bathroom floor.)

And we finally put an end to our hiatus from doing laundry.

But back into the garden, the lone potato plant is flowering!

I am hoping that it will form its fruit, so I can plant the seeds and see what grows from it,
as potatoes are like apples in that their seeds will express their genetic diversity
and so any resulting offspring will yield produce that won’t be anything like the parent plant.
(Ideally, the offspring would also be more suited for this climate and soil conditions,
as this is the plant’s way of ensuring its own healthy future generations.)

Everything else is flowering, too.

The calendula were grown from an assorted seed pack,
so each plant is reflecting its own rays of sunshine,
awe-inspiringly beautiful, even when drying out to form its seeds.

(I chose to grow these flowers for their medicinal properties,
as the petals can be infused to make a healing skin oil.)

The rest of the echinacea are getting ready to bloom.

And another lily is about to open, too.

Further uphill, the rose is back into full flower, with three blooms all opening now.

And the morning glories are blooming all around the house,
with my favorites being the mutant flowers grown from our own seeds.

Although not flowering, the artichokes have all been recovering
and growing stronger and vibrant amidst the ever-expanding mint garden.

And I’ve neglected to mention that the two apple trees and one pear tree downhill
are all enjoying the extra waterings, producing an incredible crop of large fruits,
so much so that a small branch snapped off of the pear tree,
so we harvested and sampled some of the not-quite-ripe pears.

And speaking of flowers, while I was watering some of the new sunflower seedlings,

one of our reptile neighbors came over for a drink!

Tomorrow evening it flips over to Flower time,
which often brings a welcomed change in the weather
(Flower time is during the Air elements, so the transition is usually windy).

Leave a Comment (1)

co-director (s) wrote on Jul 30:

One thing we regret not to have done sooner is to make the comment section capable of posting images, as I have so many things I've wanted to show you as "parallel universe companions"! For instance, I just took a photo of our tiny blue tail lizard that seem to have been all born lately here. As we wrote on our last FaceBook post to share your last post, it really feels like so much is just starting at moonfarm as your term and our third year is ending. If we were continuing onto the 4th year, we'd love to have you as an honorary resident like we did with Milena whose on-hiatus project was organic gardening. It's just that some "projects" and "hiatus" take much longer than a year to reach a certain state of results or comprehension.