In work as in life, Lynn Weiler Liverton is an artist in the medium of ah-hah.
Sometimes it’s the immediate, visceral response elicited in audiences by her hauntingly true-to-life busts of Stan Sheriff and Jack Lord or her iconic tribute to generations of soldiers who served with the Army’s 25th Infantry Division.
Other times, it’s the kick-in-the-eye satori moment that comes when her gentle instruction turns frustrated students into excited scholars.
And sometimes it’s just that feeling of everyday wonder the 46-year-old Liverton herself gets when she thinks of her family — husband Julian and their 8-year-old son, Charlie — her work and that endless expanse of surfable sea, and realizes she can’t think of another single thing she desires.
It’s why she once asked her jewelry-making pal to fashion her something with the word "lucky" on it.
"That’s how I feel," she says. "I’m lucky to do what I love every day, lucky to be married to a great man and lucky to live in Hawaii. I can’t imagine my life without any of these things."
Liverton grew up in Arizona and earned a degree in architecture from the University of Arizona. While working in Boston, she took her first wheel-turning class and found she had both a talent and a fondness for the craft.
Later, she and a friend visited Paris and took in the Musee Rodin. When she returned home, Liverton bought 25 pounds of clay and immersed herself in a self-directed study of its possibilities.
"I had been in architecture in Hawaii for two years, and I realized I wanted to go to art school," she says. "Thankfully, my boss laid me off."
Liverton enrolled in an M.F.A. program at the University of Hawaii and undertook a series of teaching jobs that eventually led to her employment with Honolulu Waldorf School.
Liverton’s first commissioned sculpture was the bust of the late UH athletic director Stan Sheriff, a project informed by hours of discussion with Sheriff’s family.
Indeed, the verisimilitude of Liverton’s work is as much a product of copious research and investigation as it is natural talent. With each project, Liverton devotes countless hours to making sure each detail is correct, from the way Vietnam-era soldiers preferred to carry their food rations to the unique shape of Jack Lord’s nostrils.
It’s that ability to capture the spirit of a subject through careful, objective observation of its form that Liverton tries to impart to her Waldorf students. And when the lights go on in their eyes, it’s Liverton who glows brightest.
This year — shades of Sheriff! — Liverton is also serving as the school’s athletic director, a job for which the avid sailor and surfer admits she’ll have to rely more on organizational skill than actual knowledge of team sports.
Still, Liverton has approached the task with typical enthusiasm. And if she’s truly lucky, she’ll hardly know where the time has gone.
"When you do what you love, you lose time," she says. "You lose yourself in the process."
Reach Michael Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.