Alan Akana was born in Palo Alto, CA. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Westmont College (Santa Barbara, CA) and Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, CA).
He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and has served churches in Hawaii, Montana, Utah, Texas and California. He is an accomplished artist and author, and has extensive experience providing fundraising counsel to nonprofit organizations. He enjoys reading, writing, watercoloring, cooking, hiking, swimming, traveling, visiting art museums throughout the world, and spending time with friends and his grown son Palani.
Alan currently lives in the town of Koloa on the island of Kauai where he is the pastor of Koloa Union Church and the owner of Alan Akana Gallery. Living on the “Garden Island” presents many opportunities for painting and writing about his favorite subject: Hawaiian and tropical flowers!
Alan Akana began watercoloring the flowers of Hawaii in 1993. Living in Honolulu at the time, he painted the flowers he saw in his neighborhood and on hiking trips on Oahu and the outer islands. By the time he moved from Hawaii to Montana in 1994, he had taken many pictures of tropical flowers, which he painted on the mainland for twenty years, returning to the islands annually for inspiration.
One day in 2013, while getting a painting framed at Peninsula Gallery on the San Francisco Peninsula, the owner asked if she could organize an art show for him. Over a hundred people attended and most of them bought his art. His career as an artist was set in motion.
Alan Akana has developed a personal style of painting with watercolors in rich and vibrant hues.
When Alan moved to Kauai in 2014, he began taking photographs of floral species that are endemic to the islands of Hawaii. Hiking in “out of the way” places and often visiting the National Tropical Botanical Gardens on the south shore of Kauai, he developed an interest in these flowers that are found nowhere else in the world. In 2015 he began painting watercolors of some of these flowers as part of his endemic species series, in hopes to spread awareness about the beauty and vulnerability of Hawaii's endemic flowering plants.
"The flowers of Hawaii are beautiful and unique; and many are critically endangered. I hope that my art will cause people to slow down and notice the beauty of these rare gems, and make sure they last for many generations to come."
Alan is a published author. He wrote The Volcano Is Our Home: Nine Generations of a Hawaiian Family on Kilauea Volcano, in which he tells the stories of Hawaii through the eyes of his ancestors (Revised edition, Balboa Press, 2016). He is currently working on a book to be published in 2018 about his 25 years of painting the flowers of Hawaii.
Praise for The Volcano is Our Home:
When Alan Akana realized he had missed the gift of hearing many of his family’s stories, his search for his history became a gift to all his readers. The Volcano is Our Home introduces us in a very personal way to the influences that shaped Hawaii from an isolated group of islands inhabited by remarkable people with a unique and beautiful culture into the tourist mecca known today by travelers from all over the world. The author takes you to the real Hawaii, so that you may walk these islands with new understanding of the lost way of life of those who have gone before. You will journey over 250 years with a Hawaiian family, guided by their connection to the land, each other and a rich spiritual realm.You will join them on the slopes of Kilauea Volcano as they confront the arrival of each new wave of change—from Captain Cook to the missionaries, to the overthrow of the kingdom, to the 50th State, to the 21st century. Alan Akana is one of the current generation of Hawaiians who has perfected the art of “talking story.”
—Gail Larsen, Founder of Real Speaking and Author of Transformational Speaking: If You Want to Change the World, Tell a Better Story