Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, Ualani spent her childhood running around town barefoot, daydreaming in the library, and drawing on herself with markers when she couldn’t find paper. After graduating high school, she left Hawai‘i to attend college in New York, wanting to see the world, but returned a year later with the intense desire to rediscover her home and history. Ualani studied photography at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where she graduated in 2012 with a BFA. Over the years, Ualani’s work has developed into an investigation of identity, using different mediums to explore her ancestry, homeland, and culture.
Ualani most often uses the camera and hand-applied photographic techniques when creating. As an indigenous artist, she is fascinated with photography’s historical presence in the creation and spread of indigenous identity amongst the rest of the world. Historically, those with access to photography had the ability to construct and promote their perception of reality and truth. With camera in hand, Ualani is interested in visually creating/relaying her reality as a Native Hawaiian/hapa/contemporary artist/photographer/(grand)daughter/woman.
Ualani currently resides in Honolulu, where she teaches high school photography at Kamehameha Schools, Kapālama.
video shot & directed by Vincent Desro