Today we’d like to introduce you to Madison Girifalco.
Hi Madison, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware in an Italian-Irish American family. I always had an interest in the arts and social justice. There were not a lot of examples of successful artists where I came from, so I have struggled to find my own way.
Eventually, I found that tapping into the most vulnerable parts of my life produced my most precious pieces. I try to lead with authenticity and trust that good work will follow.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The path has been far from smooth and many of the bumps have been quite painful. In 2019, I lost six people very close to me in a short period of time, including my dad. He died suddenly of a heart attack less than a month after Christmas. Since then, grief has been an ongoing theme in my life and work.
My dad was one of the biggest cheerleaders. He, maybe more than any other person, always encouraged me to be myself.
Losing him was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. I tucked away for almost a year, just trying to get through each day, frantically pouring my grief into work. This is how I created my first immersive puppet installation with my friend Jon Vermilyea. It was called, “The Puppet Room” and it premiered at The Burning Man Art Festival in 2019.
The Puppet Room was well received and an incredible experience, but I was also working at a pace that was hectic and unsustainable. When this project was over, I was forced to reflect on this year of loss in a different way. And suddenly I had no outlet.
A month later, I unknowingly started my second book, “Dead Pen”. I wrote a comic every day in the month of October, all on the theme of grief. It was an homage to those I lost and my first attempt to directly communicate the massive emotions I was experiencing.
I continue this exploration of grief in my work today. Because grief constantly evolves, my interpretation of grief evolves as well.
Losing someone we love is such a common shared experience, but we rarely talk about death. Yet, when invited, I’ve found that people have so much to say. It’s like they were waiting for the invitation. I think this is why I find it so compelling.
It also helps me understand myself better. It helps me be more authentically me. In this sweet way, my dad continues to teach me and encourage me every day.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Today I work in puppetry and immersive art. I design and fabricate puppets, sets, and props to help create environments you could only visit in your imagination. The work I design is fun and beautiful, but also is a place to build community. Ultimately, my main goal is to create environments that allow for a shift in perspective.
I am most proud of the special moments inspired by my work. Whenever I find out that something I made has helped someone through a hard time, or when another person sees themselves in something I created, it is an unbelievable feeling of connection. That is what I strive for. I think a commitment to authenticity is what sets me apart and it is why this connection is possible.
How can people work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
If you have an interest in puppetry or want to create fantastic immersive experiences, films, or theater projects, reach out! And if you are interested in building alternative environments that facilitate self-exploration and openness, definitely reach out.
If you just connect to any of this don’t be shy to say hi anyway, really. I love making new friends.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.puppetsbymadison.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mindovermadison/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/mgirifalco
- Other: www.mindovermadison.com
The portrait of me, This photo was taken by Bridget Arnett, The other are of my work and I included 3 from Dead Pen