The Queue: Denise Lebica

The Queue: Denise Lebica

Discover what individuals from our craft community are into right now.

Published on Monday, October 5, 2020.
Cover graphic for The Queue featuring Denise Lebica

Introducing the Legacy series of The Queue

Alongside the winners our 2020 Awards being featured in the October/November 2020 issue of American Craft, the Legacy series of The Queue offers a platform for this group of incredible artists and advocates to share personally about their lives and work. Plus, take in their shortlists of exciting projects, people to follow, content to consume, and more.

Connecting people to the heart of craft

Denise Lebica is the director of Fuller Craft Museum, the recipient of ACC's 2020 Award of Distinction. Read more from Denise and others about the museum's contributions to the craft field in "Honoring Accomplishments." @fullercraft

Portrait of Denise Lebica

Portrait: Courtesy of Denise Lebica

How do you describe your work or practice in 50 words or less?
I’ve been a maker my entire life. I was the kid who ran home from school so I would have more time for art before homework. My love of the handmade led me to a degree in studio art and a 30+ year career in the museum field. My roles ranged from exhibit designer, museum educator, and historical textiles manager for a living history museum. With a working understanding of craft – and my administrative experience and background in the arts – I came to Fuller Craft Museum.

With Fuller Craft Museum receiving ACC's Award of Distinction, what responsibilities come with this type of recognition?
To lead the organization and the field in the work necessary to provide opportunities in the arts for all, and to encourage and support the next generation of makers. To forefront work that addresses the difficult, complicated issues we face in society today.

Often the most interesting ideas and work comes from the place of challenge. Those of us in the field work on this premise daily. We are made for times like these!

What type of legacy do you hope to leave with your work and career?
I would like to know that I played a part in connecting people to the heart of craft – the power of the handmade to feed the soul – and helping people identify with handmade objects and find relevance for them in their own lives. I want to make it possible for the third grader who walks through the doors of this museum for the first time to imagine themselves as an artist.

Participants in Fuller Craft Museums Summer SPARK program for kids and teens

↑ Participants in Fuller Craft Museum's Summer SPARK program for kids and teens.
Photos: Courtesy of Fuller Craft Museum

What’s an exhibition or art project you think the world should know about, and why?
Tom Kiefer, "El Sueño Americano (The American Dream)." The humbleness of an artist collecting and recording discarded personal objects to tell an untold story. These confiscated items taken from migrants crossing the border, assembled in grid-like patterns and photographed, question the nature of dignity and humanity. I will never forget it.

What’s one go-to tool in your toolkit that the world should know about?
My favorite go-to tool is perspective. To see challenges as opportunities – to be creative and nimble, and to adapt. Often the most interesting ideas and work comes from the place of challenge. Those of us in the field work on this premise daily. We are made for times like these!

Cover of Threads of Life by Clare Hunter

What book should we be reading or paying attention to right now?
I’m just finishing Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle by Clare Hunter. In these difficult times, it was a reminder that throughout history, textile work was the voice of so many – that the course of politics and social justice was often altered through the hands of makers. We need this right now.

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