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Doylestown ceramic artist Lisa Naples exhibits “Using the Sun to Find North”


Bucks County ceramic artist Lisa Naples was at a turning point in her life when she began a two-year journey of creation that would become her new show – “Using the Sun to Find North,” which opens Friday at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia.

Naples, 59, said she began creating the new work in her Doylestown studio “at the end of a long marriage and with children fledging, creating independent lives far away.”

The result was a show with two central series. One is called “Wayfinding,” and features a series of 13 plates that tell a story. Ranging in size from 12 to 24 inches wide, they’re all illustrated with depictions of various moments in the arc of a story in which a red-tail hawk is the central figure.

“It begins with a heroine, a red-tail hawk having hit her midlife and fallen flat out of the sky, exhausted. This series tracks her progress as she faces choices that will decide the quality of her remaining days. She can play it safe and live comfortably in the realm of what she knows and/or she can embrace the gyroscopic world of guidance from a far less familiar realm that can’t be named, only experienced,” reads Naples description of the series.

The other is “Impermanence,” a series of six running hares in stop-frame locomotion, illustrating “the animating force coming into form, having its life and exiting back from where it came.”

“It’s actually unlike any ceramics I’ve ever seen, creating a sense of motion from static material,” she said. “The animating force entering the vessel has its life, then exits; the animating force never disappears, but the vessel does,” she said.

“When I asked for the show, I didn’t have any idea what I was going to make,” said Naples, who was one of the first resident artists at The Clay Studio, nearly three decades ago. “I haven’t wanted a solo show in 30 years.”

Naples said she kept a journal and let her ideas gestate for a year before she began bringing them to life in clay.

“I dedicated two years of my life and took the financial hit required because it was that important to me,” she said. “In order to understand it, I needed to work through it.”

“Using the Sun to Find North” – literally one of the chief ways people navigate when they don’t have a compass or a map – runs through Nov. 15. Naples’ show is one of the last in The Clay Studio’s current building at 137-139 N. 2nd St., in Old City. The Clay Studio is building a new space in Kensington.

In lieu of an opening reception, groups of four can meet with Naples in the gallery on Saturdays, at noon, 12:30 or 1 p.m., throughout the run of the show.

At noon today, via Zoom, The Clay Studio hosts a “lunch and learn,” an hour-long conversation about the show, between the studio’s creative director and Naples. Register at