Goodbye to 2021 and Onward to A New Time Full of Inspiration, Action, and Hope


But no matter how good the dance, no matter how beautiful we may feel in the moment…
understand that nothing was meant to last, and whether moments together
end in a dramatic flash of brilliance or an uneventful fizzle…
it will happen
and we will move on
we always do,
we always have.
But understand that you are never alone
even though you might be flying solo in the disco,
know that you can always close your eyes and feel the beat, feel your feet moving
in rhythm with everyone else.
There is a home for you, a place where you belong

—Kealoha, The Story of Everything

As we come to the end of a year that’s been uniquely difficult for many of us, Engaging the Senses Foundation would like to extend our very best thoughts and wishes to all of you, along with our deepest gratitude to the partners, collaborators, artists, poets, and visionaries we have had the opportunity to work with in 2021. We honor them for their generosity and brilliance. Our gratitude goes out as well to the receptive, open-hearted audiences and readers who have welcomed work of this caliber and who equally understand our collective need to not only survive, but thrive through these immensely challenging times by continuing to create beauty, offer solutions, and help one another along the path. Our hope has been strengthened by all of you.

Among the work and artists we’ve been privileged to engage with, we are thrilled to announce the completion of The Story of Everything, a multimedia film that illuminates the intersection between science, the environment, the arts, and mindfulness through the storytelling of Hawai’i first Poet Laureate, Kealoha. The Story of Everything explores humanity’s rich and diverse explanations for the origins of life, and presents powerful solutions for the continued health of the planet at a time when we’re confronting the most severe crisis the earth has ever faced.  A riveting performance that presses back against climate despair, The Story of Everything incorporates poetry, dance, music, art and special effects to condense 13.7 billion years into an hour and 45 minutes that asks and answers the question challenging humans from the very beginning:

Where do we come from?” And even more important: Where can we go next? We will be premiering The Story of Everything at the Maui film festival in July 2022 before it moves to distribution. For now, please watch the trailer .

Another flourishing project that deserves mention is our multi-year Poetry and the Senses collaboration with U.C. Berkeley’s Arts and Research Center (ARC) has thrived under the skillful direction of Acting Director of Arts Research Center Chiyuma Elliott, an Associate Professor of African American Studies at UC Berkeley and member of the ARC Poetry and the Senses Advisory Board; and Associate Director of ARC Laurie Macfee, a poet, artist, art administrator, and educator who facilitates the Poetry and the Senses initiative. For Fall 2021 the current Poetry and the Senses fellows cohort focused on the theme of coexistence, with implications of both sharing space/cohabitation within overlapping territories, and simultaneous presence with others in time. The richness of their offerings can be found on the Events page and include a series of vital Flash Readings, an evening called Celebrating Cave Canem with poets Cornelius Eady, Morgan Parker & Cameron Awkward-Rich, a conversation between Camille T. Dungy & Ross Gay and the Poetry & the Senses Fall 2021 Fellows Reading, all of which will remain online for your enjoyment.

Another venture we were pleased to play a small part in was the California Arts Council’s DREAM, an annual publication devoted to news of the thriving arts and cultural landscape of California. The first issue is a cornucopia of articles about creative artists and events in the world’s fifth leading economy, a sampling of the rich diversity amongst creatives in the state. Articles include an in-depth look at a partnership supporting traditional agricultural knowledge and art between the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation and the Mariposa County Arts Council, which addresses wildfire concerns; a moving story about a Mexican-American artist became involved with the artists against the seeming barriers of autism and poverty; a love letter to the power and opulence of Black creatives; and many others.

It’s also an honor to highlight our ongoing partnership with Skirball Cultural Center a place of meeting that welcomes people of all communities and generations to participate in cultural experiences that celebrate discovery and hope, foster human connections, and call upon us to help build a more just society. Our most recent opportunity to offer support was for the dynamic and inspiring online conversation between Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in US history and former first Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S., and  Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, who read her own original poem, Praise Song for the Day” for the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama. ETSF has also helped to support offerings such as the Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Ai Weiwei: Trace exhibitions, Jewish meditation sessions, and readings by poetry luminaries such as U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.

Also, a warm mention and congratulations to our partner, Hawai’i Contemporary who moves from strength to strength, and whose Hawai’i Triennial is upcoming in February 2022. Hawai‘i Triennial 2022 (HT22) will be framed around the fluid concept of Pacific Century – E Ho‘omau no Moananuiākea, interweaving themes of history, place, and identity within the context of Hawaiʻi’s unique location at the confluence of Asia-Pacific and Oceania. HT22’s 43 artists and collectives will feature over 60 participants including internationally renowned cultural figures exhibiting alongside multiple generations of Hawai‘i-based artists, as well as others making their U.S. institutional debut. We encourage all who can to purchase tickets to attend the Triennial from February 18–May 8, 2022  We have had a long and fruitful partnership with Hawai’i Contemporary — Engaging the Senses Foundation’s CEO Mona Abadir was first president emeritus of Hawai’i Biennial in 2019 — and are looking forward to the panels and presentation we will be collaborating on for the Triennial. More information to come in the new year!

These are just a sampling of the kinds of projects that help us to embody Engaging the Senses Foundation’s core belief that by supporting artists in their boldest and most courageous visions, we are assisting humanity to thrive. Through the creation of programs and events that illuminate the intersection of art and compassion, we honor the indivisibility of the human spirit and nature, and attend to the nurturing of both. We hope you have a joyful and compassionate end to 2021, and that you’ll join us for the many exciting undertakings we have planned for 2022 and beyond.

On behalf of all of us at Engaging the Senses Foundation, we wish you happy holidays and a wonderful new year!