Vegan Mofo Day 11: Campus Philly, Discovering Stephen Hayes & Blackbird Pizzeria

So I didn’t make my 30 post September Vegan Mofo goal. That was quite unfortunate. I barely had time to be around the apartment, let alone cook. For the most part, I’ve been eating frugal oatmeal bowls and bananas more than twice a day. One strenuous “elective” class takes up most hours. Seminar provides so much intellectual reading my brain is bound to explode from jargon filled information. All the while I am to be conducting studio work. That leaves little time for cooking creativity.  Much less breathing. I haven’t breathed relief until well…. today.

Thanks to the big Campus Philly event, I feel at ease. At least for a few hours. Many Center City museums were free to students showing up with college ID or blue campus Philly wrist bands. In front of the Philadelphia Art Museum steps, where all the fun started, entertainment was in great abundance for the growing wild crowd. Open mic poetry, positive rap music, DJ spinning tunes from around the globe, and dance off competitions took the stage. Varied games like spin the wheel and sock game tosses provided happy students prizes. Freebies included lots of fresh drinks, snacks, and coupons.

I uncovered Stephen Hayes. Who is Stephen Hayes? Who is this artist that baffles spirit with amazingly riveting work that makes each room silent? Deep respect and undeniable mourning describes the tears burning to fall. Hayes creates haunting poetic narrative that speaks guttural truths to me, that speaks to everyone about the bloody realities on which our country stands. Cash Crop explores not just the past, but future as well. Above isGluttony, a piece that has an intricately carved slave ship in each wooden rectangle. Remarkable symbolic creation of infinite lives stolen from Africa. It narrates ancestral days. Desires to keep having and having, consuming and consuming, using and using. Hayes asks, when will it be enough? When will we stop forcing people to do that of which we could for ourselves? Will slavery ever be truly abolished worldwide?

Most harrowing, poignant portrait of all paints grisly reality, a brusquely undeniable honesty. Fifteen cement sculptures of men, women, and children- arrested hands and shackled legs all leading to one place. Dripping brown stains faces, bodies, and hands, dried bodily fluids staining gray expressionless, nameless captives. Tears want to fall hard at this sight. And even now, it stays present in mind, unforgotten, saying “remember your history. Your history.”
Knowledgeable fruit gifted brain, a sweet abundant nourishment that stimulated ideas for tonight’s studio practice. The effective way Hayes took subject matter and beautifully weaved conception delivered insight. Its in the same manner as of Wangechi Mutu’s profound show seen last year at the Brooklyn Museum. This idea, this notion, that we as artists shouldn’t define ourselves as one primary function. They’re not just installation artists or sculptors or mixed media collage geniuses. I’m not just a painter that loves to draw. We’re each creative inventors using narrative, with or without text language, to engage viewers into reading with their minds, with their souls.
Thus, I carried this inside my filled heart, walking towards next destination- a place to feed ravenous belly.

Blackbird Pizzeria is one of my absolute favorite Philadelphia vegan eateries. With menu item side salads, sandwiches, Make-Your-Own calzones, pizzas like Balboa (pumpkin pesto pizza topped with Daiya mozzarella, seitan bacon, and tomatoes) or (breakfast pizza with tofu scramble and Daiya), I decided to try something new: the wings! Yes, I have heard through the grapevine all about Blackbird’s infamous sauce dripping wings! I wasn’t the biggest wing pre-vegetarian hence why it took so long to trying them out.

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