How Welding Fixed More Than Metal (with Joe Marolda)

Today on Waking Up In America I’m meeting with Joe Marolda at this workshop in Vineland, NJ. Joe is a metal artist who traded commercial welding for creativity and community service. Passionate about this faith, friends and his Italian heritage, Joe puts his heart and soul into every piece of functional art he sends out or donates. I am Tajci.
At 19 I was a superstar and I was lost inside. I left it all behind, switched continents and started all over. Years later I found myself lost again. This time in the American dream.
This is a story about awakening. About living the life you were created for. About going inward and discovering the joyous and purposeful person you and I are both meant to be. This is “Waking Up In America.” All right, Joe! It is so good to
be back here Vineland… -Yea, it’s good to see you again! -We were here about a year and few months ago and I was doing a concert in Vineland. Was it in Vineland? Minetola actually. -Minetola, that’s right.
We were doing our Christmas Tour and usually stuff goes… stuff breaks so
we had a few mike stands that needed to be fixed
and something on our van needed also fixing. And so they called Joe the welder. local guy to come and help. Oh and you were also
helping with the with the setup. Right, exactly, that’s the reason how I
got brought in, was to help carry the amps. -That’s right. -While I was here Matthew, which I
didn’t know it was so involved actually said, I got some other stuff so I
weld. So I took them right then and brought them back right away and that’s why I was running around. I was all dirty when I met you. -That’s right, and so I got out of the van and I
saw this beautiful Italian Joe running across the the parking lot right? And I said something… you said, I’m helping your, you said I’m welding your
“something”… I was like, okay. hi! But then… your story unfolded that night. You presented me with his
beautiful it’s a vase, it’s also a wine holder, it’s a beautiful piece of art. And I used to do this song “I do believe” and you welded “I do believe” on it, and it was so moving. This show is about discovering
people like you who open their hearts wide enough and make the change And you said it so perfectly a little while ago as we were chatting, you said: now I am… where I
want to be and where I need to be is now the same.
And for so many people… we spend so much of our lives where
want to be and where we need to be being two different
places. So at that time we did a little bit of interview you and me… We talked about stuff and you showed me some of your early pieces but now it’s a year later And lot’s have happened. -Yea, it’s been a lot of ups and downs obviously, like everyone’s life. But I
feel like more than ever last few months I’m really getting it together and my art’s always had some ups and
downs because I was have to lean more on my commercial end of my work to kind of pay
the bills but I’ve done same changes and I’ve learned to
trust little more and I’m getting away from that, and I really want to follow my
dreams and my passion is my art. And I know that
it’s tough being an artist, because most people can’t make it. It’s how it is in art. -But that’s how we we’re conditioned to think that artists
can’t make it. We like to believe that
because the world tells us. They tell me that all the time, that’s the funny thing. -They tell you… So take us back. Were you always an artist? -No. Actually, I’ve only made a few pieces over the years. Maybe something for a friend here and there. I really was very self-conscious about people seeing it because I never thought it was any good. How about in your heart, when you were little? -I’ve always fixed things and made things but I never looked at it as art. As much as now, I Iook back now and it probably was art. My grandfather was a plumber and
my dad grew up as a mason which, I guess, he was kinda like an artist
but then we started a farm back in ’73. And I guess we became artists of vegetables, growing things like that and I learned how to fix things on the
farm and then when I got done with farming in 2000 I took a
welding class which I kind of knew how to weld a little bit but not really that well and then I kind of stuck with, And in 2002 started a welding business called Vine Industry. And did like commercial
industrial welding. And I kind of wasn’t happy, though, I kind of was…. At the beginning I was happy. I was making a lot of money. but then I realized that really wasn’t what it was about. And then the economy started to change a little bit and the money wasn’t even there as much so I was like, well, I’m not making money and I’m not
happy. So then I started doing some traveling with some different jobs I was doing for different stadium
companies taking seats out of different stadiums as they were doing demolition and that was really cool. I got to travel And that’s when I started to meet some new Italian friends and they started just give me some influence and just started growing. and then I had, like I said some ups and downs where I feel like I was broken-down and rebuilt the way
I’m supposed to be. grown up by actually Growing up I actually, I never really wanted to be a farmer but I kind of was helping my dad and my uncle live their dream a little bit. I kind of never put that much thought into it as I
should have maybe growing up because I didn’t go to college so, I really didn’t… I kind of was just going through the motions of working. But I really… when I found welding
actually when I started buying, I got old enough for I’d buy like farm trucks for myself they’d break and I’d fix them. So then, my
friends started asking me to fix things and it’s how it became what I did… And then when my Dad decided to retire in 2000, I
didn’t really want to do anything with the farm. And I just started welding stuff
for people. And it just, it started going like that.
-Right. And welding is to me… when you say welding, ok… I’m a a girl, I’m a city girl and I don’t know much about heavy machinery. But welding… it sounds like, it’s really a man’s job. -It can be but women weld too… -Women weld too. Great! Thank you. Thank you Joe for
pointing that out. But I mean it’s a tough job, right? -It is dangerous. People, there’s a lot of smoke inhalation or
people loose fingers and get cut on stuff all the time, but I try to do my
best to stay safe. And now I’m kind of getting a little spoiled because lot of my stuff is small. -So here, let’s get to the ‘now’. So what shifted? What shifted? What made you go from welding big, fixing big machines, taking seats out of
stadiums to making art pieces? Such beautiful, vulnerable, emotional art pieces? -Well what happened was I actually, I had to downsize my
facility, so it actually kinda forced me not to do that kind of work anymore which was
good and I started getting more involved with my church and I started doing some fund raisers with them, so I would donate pieces and try to raise money and a few different like fundraising, we
do it: Pennies in Action that’s a cancer research and my friend Pearl and I, we do a lot of help with that and I make art for that, I just started by getting involved with the different people. I was helping… That’s what I still do, I still help
people. And it’s funny because if you look at my baby book, my first words were “me help” -How beautiful… And I hear so many big teachers and business and
entrepreneurs, they say when when you’re… when your world is falling apart, give. Go out and volunteer. Give of yourself and then in that
process you will receive and in, through that
process you will even find yourself and your new path. -Well it’s funny
because that’s what I heard but I really like, few years ago I was like, Ah, you can’t do that! But really I was like almost forced ’cause I didn’t really have anything else going on and I really felt like that was what I wanted to do, even when I haven’t had any
money in my pocket I still wanted to help and give. It was weird because like I said, I could see looking back now
there was a change happening because I wasn’t who I was a few years ago. And just, now I do what I enjoy and I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t change it for the world. -So
what was the hardest thing to let go? -Letting go was… I guess to have a big shop up with all big toys and all that kind of stuff, ’cause I honestly, just the other day I finished selling all my toys and I kind of, I’ve tried my best to detach from the world and just stick to what I need to do; my art and my friends. -And there was
a transition in the family dynamic that you went through a little
bit that helped you to detach which we all do. We all at some point have to let go our families and -Yea. I definitely did it… My father, he
wanted to move to Florida so he sold our family property which was
supposed to be handed down to me. So it put me in a spot where I wasn’t prepared at all. I didn’t think about that. But in a way I look back now and it was the best. Because having the
burden of the property, taking care of it… I would have been more stuck here… Where now I can do more of what I
want to do. and what I’m supposed to do. -I love
what you have done, Joe. I love who you are. -Thank you! -And you’re not afraid to show up and say: look! Okay, so you turned
forty? -Right in January 18th. -Yes Happy Birthday! Belated! -Oh thank you. -But why was it so
significant for you? -That was a significant for me because when I was just turned 30, a lot of things happened. I
really thought I was on the right path. And then so many things have happened over the last 10 years now look where
I’m at forty and I feel like I’m such a different person and what’s important to me wasn’t important then. Like family is very important to me now
Which I really didn’t… have that much interest in then. And I feel like I am just as alive now as I
was in my 20s only I have a lot more knowledge and my art has grown, I am proud of it. I still, a lot of people think it’s really nice to
me to be just what I do you know, I try to be real humble about it and I have some people that are… stick behind me to make sure I stay that
way and I’m really proud of them too. -It sounds to me that you did have this situation that served really to push you into really then making that change, right? There was a hard… situation, like you said, you had the shop you were… it was almost like weighing you down not… you still had to serve the shop
rather than serve your art. -Right! That’s how it was, and that happened back…. actually the big changed happened 4th of July where I was forced out of my shop and I was totally lost and I was in the middle… I had so much work lined up for the summer, that’s my busy season and I pretty much… I did it… I got it done
outside a lot of it… Even in the back yard, I ran extension chords from my house out to my back yard did it in the grass. But, right, ’cause I’m a stubborn Italian and I don’t know when to say when and I never give up so add that together and that’s why I think
what took it ten years for me to realize how much I was on the wrong path
where once me and my father had our official falling out, I lost everything pretty much. And I almost didn’t
have a place to live. And really started fresh all over again just
me and my two hands. And like I said, I can’t
take all the credit, I’ve got some really supportive people that helped me but on a day-to-day, it’s just me. And you know… having… starting at nothing again really put everything in perspective It gave me a a chance to have a clean
slate and I really do believe that that’s… the push was really what helped me get to where I’m at right now -Yeah and you know a lot of people… we do get this ‘waking up moment’ and something external causes it. For you it was
losing the shop, and loosing all this work right? And for some, it’s an illness. And what I’m hoping that we will do here, and your story, is that
people can can make that decision, make that internal
change right? Shift. Okay, now I’m done. I’m really going to like you said make it about my dream and really go
for it. Not kinda like I still have the safety of this, so I’ll just -And that’s what happens with a lot of safety of the nine-to-five type of work, it kind of hold you back from following your dreams
sometimes and you have to like what you do. It
sounds cliche but you really have to enjoy would you do. And very few people I know really do enjoy what they do. So I feel in a way bad for them but they can make a
change they can do it . -Yeah, everybody. And we don’t
have to wait till the something big comes in our lives and shakes up… We… it’s really up to us because
in the end right like he said your friends
provided support and this is situation triggered but it was still then up to you to pick
up right? Because the other thing is to give up
and say I just can’t do it and then go into depression go into some people unfortunately go into numbing, taking drugs, drinking, just losing all hope, right? -Well in a way I’ve kind of been there too. Over time you know, ups and downs like I say, but I really just… I couldn’t stress enough they have
to follow your dreams And then what ever kind of adversity gets put in front of you in this world, you can overcome it It’s really easy. It can be done. And my stories is no better or worse than anyone else’s. We all have our own story and like I said, you only take what you
can handle but I feel that I was down on my luck and I’ve never really had that much battle with
depression but I’ve been there I know how it feels and you just have to stick it
out. Every day is a new challenge and, don’t give up till the battle is over. That’s how I look at life. -And, you know people are watching and thinking and saying, Joe, but it’s so hard! What do I do? What’s the first step? What the one first step that I take? What would you tell them? I would say a) you gotta start praying. And 2. take a step back from your life. And really take a good,
hard look at what you’re doing. -You know, you just have so much gratitude in you, when you talk and it shows through your art. This gratitude for life, for good things
in life, that’s, I guess Italian in you, isn’t it? -Well it’s funny, because when I go different places, like the flower shop that also do my flowers and and I have actually a beauty products, I’m doing all my paints and all my different things I use them
around the house and it’s funny because they are artists too. They do painting and they make different things and actually they do it on the side. So when they see me I
notice that they get inspired. So sometimes when I go
different places I feel like I inspire people… sometimes.. -Absolutely! -Especially artist because lot of people do it on the side I like I said, and I
really feel like I see them too lately, they start making stuff again. I’m really
proud of them. And they help me and I help them. It’s how it
works. Joe, it takes a lot of courage to do what you’ve done and so many
people out there and you know since we met you, my husband Matthew and I we talked about you to so
many people because it takes a lot of courage to say
okay I’m gonna leave this job I’m gonna leave this life and do something
that people around me tell me it’s not gonna work out! But it’s true to your soul and you see how through what you do, you
give back right? Through the charity, through the fundraisers, through your
people, through your church to the people that support you and to
the world because when we show up who we are when what we
need and what we want becomes the same then
we really like you said inspire others and uplift them and make this world a better place. What connects us is our vulnerability, our hardships… We have ups and downs just like you, and that’s
why I wanted you on my show, because I wanted to show that it comes with hard times, but it’s the courage and vulnerability, and the ability to cry,
to tear up and say this is me and it’s okay world! I don’t have to be this tough, welder guy right? The picture… Or I
don’t have to be this doll, always put up together although I like to wear makeup and lashes and
whatever right? But we also have hardships, and struggles, and we together make through them. -Yea, well a few years ago I would have been
as open to even talk about things like this but now it’s like, I don’t even care anymore, because I know where I
need to be and I’m just on a mission to get there. -So
when you send out your art pieces, when somebody buys it, what do you hope to send out with it? -I send my heart and soul in every piece.
Every piece has a story and I can sit here and tell you how every piece was made and
where they came from and how I was feeling that day. It’s funny ’cause that’s
really what… art, I’ve always thought of art, I’ve heard about
that, but I didn’t really experience it firsthand about, there is a story behind every
piece and… When I send a piece of art out I like to be
more in touch with the person, see what they are about, then just send them something. People always tell me, oh, make me something but that doesn’t really get me anywhere. Till I talk to them and I met them and I… I enjoy that part of it… Even at a fundraiser, if
someone wins one of my pieces, like through an auction… Just last week I went out and sat with the people. Basically, we start talking about the
piece and I told about where I got the inspiration and when I made it and I really connected with the people and I
really feel like that’s a part of who I am I am an Italian so I like to talk. -Thank you so much Joe, for who you are, for all your courage and for continuously inspiring people
and if you had one thing to say to
someone out there who is not happy in their life that they think they need to be living
what would you tell them? -Well I would tell them as much as it
hard, you have to focus on what you really, what’s important to you.
And not listen to anyone else what they tell you. You have to really take a step back from
your life first and look at where you’re at and ask
yourself is this where I wanna be? Because too
many people get caught up and it’s hard to detach at at that point,
you know? But it’s not impossible. Everyone can change their life and make a
difference. Every day can be a step in the
right direction. You don’t have to be miserable. Trust me
I lived there for long enough And I’m actually getting happier every day. So I’d say just live your dreams and just believe! So Joe quit commercial welding when the crisis hit and started a new business of functional metal art. But the story that matters more is how through the external change, Joe made the change within, opened up to receive grace, embrace vulnerability and live out his purpose to help, share and inspire. And as Joe sings with his friend Tommy that’s the place where he belongs. -… to be with you… Your presence is all… I am waiting for… here in the secret place your nearness is all I am longing for here in the quiet place. here in the secret place. I hope these stories featured here on
Waking Up in America are inspiring you to live your dream and then bring the change that you
desire into our world. If so please share these
episodes with your friends and join us at and on our Facebook group Waking Up in
America. See you next time!

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