head shot of Daisy Desrosiers

Daisy Desrosiers is the inaugural Director of Artist Programs at the Lunder Institute for American Art at Colby College. She is an interdisciplinary art historian and independent curator. Her thesis concerns the cultural, post-colonial, and material implications of the use of sugar in contemporary art.

In 2018, she was the inaugural recipient of the Nicholas Fox Weber curatorial fellowship, affiliated with the Glucksman Museum (Cork, Ireland), as well as a curatorial fellow-in-residence at Art in General (Brooklyn, NY).

The author would like to thank Briana Williams (Colby ’19) for her work in the first iteration of the project and Emmanuel Sogunle (Colby ’21) for his ongoing and diligence work on the Makers’ Map.

What Maine Craft Means to ME

by Daisy Desrosiers

(…) I find it intriguing to look at early attempts in history, not for the sake of historical interest, that is, of looking back, but for the sake of looking forward from a point way back in time in order to experience vicariously the exhilaration of accomplishment step by step.

– Anni Albers, On Weaving, 1965, p.65

When I think of craft, I immediately have the makers in mind. In so many ways, I perceive the practice of making as an ever-growing reminder of attempts, of tactile memories, of shifting materials; but also, viscerally, of the communities of people it brings together. I’m in absolute reverence for the makers’ expansive knowledge and the way it inhabits tradition and innovation as, a form of material storytelling that I admire. These material journeys have led me to understand and observe more deeply the stories that are told through the process of making. To me, it also speaks to the incredible faith put in materials and the experience leading to a form, as abstract or as practical as it can be. As a viewer, I seek that space of transformation and exploration. It is one that is as generous and capacious as it is revealing of the maker. Through craft, there is something continuously shared about the culture of a place, the process and how that story is told. Equally, it speaks in poetic, functional or cross-historical ways, to the makers’ dedication and accomplishments through techniques.

When I moved to Maine two years ago, getting to know the community of craftspeople and makers as well as exploring the craft scene of this state was, and remains, an eye-opening experience, an ever-growing education. This education is one that unfolds in various ways for me. As an art historian, it compels me by the ways in which it acknowledges why and how material history matters. As a newcomer to Maine, it puts me in conversations with new communities of people. As a consumer, it entices a curiosity for the objects that surrounded me. As a Cultural Producer and Director of Artist Programs at the Lunder Institute for American Art at Colby College, I became fascinated by the potential of imagining making together and building new connections all over Maine. The makers’ deep knowledge and expertise became the productive site of new possibilities. I’m grateful for the ways they have deepened my understanding of Maine, of creative processes and what making can be.

In the past year and a half, I’ve worked closely with the incredible team at the MCA as I was thinking about a project I wanted to materialize and develop with students: The Makers Map. A geolocating map of makers, from woodworkers to blacksmiths, glassblowers, and beyond that will be an incredible and creative tool for artists and makers working in Maine, or those passing through as part of residencies, research trips, or creative retreats. As this project develops and continues to grow, the relationships, aptness, and experiences nurtured as part of this endeavor are moving mementos now embedded in the ways I look at objects around me and the connections built along the way. This is yet another tangible testimony of the strengthening power of craft: it brings people together, binds them as part of the process while offering a unique imprint of a place looking forward.

What Maine Craft Means to Me Essay Series invites you to explore the many intersections and layers of craft, people and time in Maine through the words of those with deep connections to our state and our field.

The Maine Crafts Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization supporting craft artists by providing educational, marketing and retail opportunities. Our ability to accomplish our mission and help artists thrive is reliant on individual contributions.