We were waiting for Lauryn Hill to come on stage. It was the night of the US presidential election. 2016, Queen E Theatre, Vancouver. Ms. Hill is known to take her time, but it was obvious that the concert couldn’t start until the election suspense was dissolved.

The results were called. The atmosphere was thick with emotion. And out she came. We held our breath. She wrapped her handkerchief around the mic. I was expecting somber opening words. But she leaned in and cued her band to blow us away.

Everything is everything
What is meant to be, will be
After winter, must come spring
Change, it comes eventually

Sometimes it seems
We’ll touch that dream
But things come slow or not at all
And the ones on top, won’t make it stop
So convinced that they might fall
Let’s love ourselves and we can’t fail
To make a better situation
Tomorrow, our seeds will grow
All we need is dedication
Let me tell ya that

Everything is everything
Everything is everything
After winter, must come spring
Everything is everything

And not long after, she sat center stage on her red velvet chaise, strumming her guitar, and we ate her words like warm bread we stood in line for:

“You know what’s going to come of this moment in history?” asked Lauryn Hill. What?! Injustice, division, collusion?

“Beautiful art,” she said. “It’s happened before, and it will happen again. People’re going to make things. Artists make art from struggle.”

Her gift to everyone that night was firm Faith.

She alchemized fear into a higher vision. Like artists do.

Art alchemizes fear into a higher vision, pain into possibility, loneliness into community.
Art is a way-shower through the shadowlands. It weaves together our potential, it incants Guidance.
Art shows us what’s goin’ on and
holds up righted new realities.

Art is catharsis and declaration.
Art is omen and medicine.
Atoning. Attuning.
Art is the subconscious craning to be attended,
transcendence embodied.
Art is the Divine’s search light.

Art is a matter of urgency.

Before I go on… to the “Yes, but I’m not an artist” kind of people: Shhh, no, listen. This is part of the evolutionary call, that we all step into our full Maker Energy. We need all of us to produce powerful declarations from our depths.

Artfully place free vegetables on your street corner, that counts. When you want to jump to conclusions in a heated conversation, breathe, artfully—get bigger than the moment and create empathy for the other, and yourself, and all that we’re dragging around with us. This is the art of non-violent communication.

Intentionally delighting others is an art form. Case in point, Swiss Miss runs a bubble-making machine on the fire escape of her Brooklyn office, wafting bubbles down the block. My Banksy-aspiring friend makes stickers saying things like, “It won’t be the same again. It shouldn’t. Be kind. Be brave.” And leaves them around town. She’s been doing this for years and I just found out. “How did I not know this about you?” I said. “It’s just my little thing.” Covert art that is overtly encouraging. Amen.

Patrons of poets, living room salon hosts. Amen. If you can’t make it, support it.

And there are those who make their art in silent prayer, stirring the morphogenic field with their insight. Perhaps, when made to meet God, things that are never to be shown still become luminous in the inner worlds. Like the sand mandalas that Tibetan monks spend hundreds of hours making—and then blow to the wind. I’ve never finished dozens of paintings. I keep painting over the canvasses before anyone can see. Doesn’t matter. My heart felt what transpired.

“Art is the essence of awareness.”
– Louise Nevelson, Russian-American Sculptor (September 23, 1899 – April 17, 1988)

For the Artist-identified, it’s our duty to reflect the times and, whenever we can, call everyone to higher consciousness. Listen to Nina, she says it.

The catharsis that breaks us open, and reimagines pervasive narratives. Imagery as portals to higher understanding. Songs of justice with love. Poems positing that destiny is our friend.

We can not survive this passage without the nectar of beauty, without the breath of freed expression, without collective soul.

Art unifies us.
This is now a matter of urgency.

Featured links in this piece:

I created a Spotify Playlist: Love with Justice, Prince makes a special appearance.

Watch: Nina Simone on the duty of artists (1 minute).

Listen: H.E.R. I Can’t Breathe, “Starting a war screaming peace at the same time.”

See: Birth of Eve (New World Consciousness series 2018), by Harmonia Rosales, a painter “exploring black female empowerment through art that challenges Ideological hegemony in contemporary society.”

Look: Mind Lattice, by Alex Gray.

Feel: An African Elegy, by Ben Okri.