Interview: Emmanuel Sogunle ’21 Reflects on His Work with the Maine Makers’ Map

Emmanuel Sogunle ’21 was one of two Colby students to assist Lunder Institute Director of Artist Programs Daisy Desrosiers in the creation of the Maine Makers’ Map, an interactive tool to facilitate networking between visiting artists and highly skilled craftspeople in Maine. In this interview, he reflects on his experience.

Q: How would you describe the Makers’ Map and its impact on your understanding of artmaking and collaboration?

A: The Makers’ Map project is an interactive map of highly skilled material experts in Maine. The map highlights woodworkers, metalworkers, builders, and production studios, among other things of that sort. The purpose of the map is to showcase how much talent is just floating around in Maine and bring to light the rich knowledge these craftspeople possess. By publicly featuring this collection of expert makers, the map aims to connect Maine’s community of skilled craftspeople with Lunder Institute visiting artists and other artists in Maine. This map serves as a resource enabling artists to join forces and offer their expertise to one another with the purpose of creating something amazing.

Q: What has been most interesting to you in your work at the Lunder Institute?

A: I really enjoyed getting to learn more about how the makers fell in love with their craft and became experts. It was exciting to hear about the wide-ranging backgrounds of the people I worked with. Some work in the studio full-time and have spent their lives honing skills that have been passed down for generations. At the other end of the spectrum, I got to speak with a man who works part-time as an OBGYN and specializes in glassblowing in his free time. Everyone I spoke with was really passionate, and that was something I was glad to have witnessed.

Q: What can you share about the process of pulling together this resource? 

A: The biggest aspect of putting this project together was finding craftspeople to join. Most of my work consisted of talking with them to explain the goals and intent of the project in the hopes that they would be excited about the map. Often the makers I talked to recommended other craftspeople they are friends with or had worked with, and I reached out to them and invited them to join as well. I also organized all of the information for the artists/studios and uploaded it onto the mapping software.

Q: What was/is important, for you, in shaping this project and the work that you have done the makers’ map?

A: For me, it was important to depict the talent of Maine craftspeople. This map highlights that. There is so much talent here in Maine but sometimes finding it isn’t easy. I was pleased to contribute to making the search for expert material workers more accessible, not only for visiting artists, but also for the local community of craftspeople.

Q: Were there any moments along the way that were especially illuminating or rewarding for you?

A: One especially rewarding moment for me was getting to go out and visit one of the studios on the map, Hallowell Clay Works with Daisy Desrosiers, LIAA Director of artist programs, who spearheaded this whole initiative, and a few Colby students. It was nice to meet the founder of the studio and to talk with other potters, learn more about their backgrounds and how they got interested in clay.

Q: What surprised you as you became acquainted with the variety of makers that work here in Maine?

A: The sheer number of craftspeople in Maine surprised me. There is such a vast network of amazing artists in Maine that specialize in so many different dimensions. It was also interesting to see how certain material categories, such as clay, have such a strong network of artists that seem to truly support one another.

Q: Was there a particular maker you were excited to meet or a practice you wanted to understand better? If so, why?

A: I have always found glassblowing super cool and really enjoy watching the process, and I would be excited to learn how to do it for myself. Glass and glassblowing originated in Venice, and during my Jan Plan trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to explore local shops and see Murano glass made from techniques passed down for generations. So, getting to learn more about this field and trying it out for myself is definitely a goal of mine. David Jacobson, who I got to connect with while working on this project, has actually trained for over 26 years in the Venetian Style of glassblowing, so he is a maker I would love to meet and learn more about.

Q: In what ways do you think this experience has prepared you for the world of work beyond Colby

A: This experience has given me so many skills that I will carry beyond Colby. I spent many hours researching artists, compiling their information, reaching out to them, and then coherently organizing all of their information. All these things helped me to acquire skills that I know will be useful to me when I graduate from Colby. I also had the opportunity to speak with people from various backgrounds and expand my interests, network, and pool of resources.

Q: Any additional thoughts?

A: I am truly proud of the Maine Makers’ Map project and I hope it helps to foster creative invention, collaboration, and community building.