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Maui Ceramicist Followed Son to College

Sharon Ransford took an unusual path to UH Maui and a career in art.

How did you decide to attend UH Maui?

We came to Maui when my son was 15 in 2001. He didn’t want to attend the high school in our area, so he earned his GED and started at Maui Community College (now UH Maui) at 16. He took this one business course and really liked his instructor, Ku‘uipo Lum.  So I thought I’d go too. I took a business class with the same instructor and an art class with Jennifer Owen.

How are you sharing your work now?

I started at Na Pili, and then the Lahaina Arts Society.  I was in the Maui Crafts Guild for eight years and sold my work at the Four Seasons, the Grand Wailea, and the Kea Lani, but it’s a lot of work setting up and hauling my work around like that, and it was cutting into time with my husband.  I dropped them all, and now I sell my work wholesale. I give retailers half of what we make from my sales, and I have more freedom with my life.  I don’t have to spend all day Tuesday here and all day Thursday there.  I have control.

I love my Maui ceramic plates, but I can’t make them quickly enough.  If I made 80 a month, they would sell.  Now it’s kind of my bread and butter; it helps to preserve my husband’s income.

It’s fun for me, and it’s what I live for, outside of my family.

What influence did your time at UH Maui have on your career in art?

It was my kick start. I had always wanted to try ceramics, so I tried it and I really liked it a lot. I was there learning how to use clay. I enjoyed the people. I loved the youth because I was older, and there were older women too, from time to time, including a woman who was 70.

Jennifer was my favorite instructor and she became my mentor.  It was an encouraging experience, because my pieces in her class were exhibited, which gave me the confidence to become more deeply involved with the art.

Where can we purchase your work?

Karen Lei's Gallery in Kahakuloa and Kāʻanapali; Hui No‘eau in Makawao; Unique Boutique in north Kīhei, and Maui Hands in Pāʻia, Makawao, Lāhainā, and the Hyatt in Kāʻanapali.

University of Hawai‘i Alumni