One of the most commonly expressed reasons for creating functional pottery is its ability to lend to the experience of connection. These experiences can be an individual’s connection to a single moment in their day or the world as a whole and they can be the connections friends, families, and acquaintances make over a meal or cup of coffee. Dishes are extremely tactile and nearly everyone has experiences and memories of dishes that they have interacted with and used regularly. Because of this inherent history, we often look upon dishes and easily picture using them, which can partially take away from their value because of how easily accessible and tangible they are. This is where the potter can step in and naturally take on the job of changing lives daily.
Naomi Cleary maintains this exact sentiment in her making. She promotes the understanding that dishes are very intimate objects; we live with them, hold them, and touch them to our lips. Cleary’s work is bright, clean, and playful. She creates pieces that feel reminiscent of the house and home, hinting at collage, drawing, and embroidery with her use of line, color, shape, and subject matter.
Cleary explains some of her inspiration for making, “Dishes speak of history and lineage, passed down from mother to daughter, connected to family dinners, celebrations and sharing. They are a reminder of the warmth and comfort found in domestic spaces.”
Cleary earned a BFA from The University of the Arts, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2002 and an MFA in 2007 from The Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio. She currently lives in Philidelphia where she works at the Clay Studio as the Director of Marketing and Retail. Cleary maintains a home studio with her partner, Daniel Teran. She is also one of the founding members of Philidelphia Potters.