Marian Renee Pumpkin Concha-Saastamoinen will be among many artists to take part in “Until Name Becomes Prayer,” Monday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m. at Summit Artspace. The event, which will feature Samoan immigrant, poet and arts educator William Alfred Nu’utupu Giles, is free and open to the public and will pay homage to “every indigenous and immigrant mouth that had to become a history book.” The night is sponsored by Summit Artspace, local artists, local organizations and community members from all over the country.
How do you describe yourself?
“I am a descendent of generations of Southwest Pueblo potters taught by my mother, aunts, extended family. I am from Taos/Jemez/Laguna/Acoma Pueblos. I create from the gifts of Mother Earth of the natural clays and slips. I try to stay true to form. ”
What is an object that describes your art and your work?
“What I bring is a perfect example of air, water, earth and fire that will seal the beauty of what is in all of us. It’s an honor to have this talent and gift in which I can actually hold Mother Earth in my hand as I look around the concrete, the steel, and the asphalt–which is of this Earth–and know that this artform is what scientists study, because this is what is left by my cultural ancestors. But I am proof of living history of my cultural peoples. I hold in my hand the clay of my Taos/Pueblo tribe.”
What are some projects you’re working on?
“I’m continuing prayer for Mother Earth for Her water and understanding of what She brings to us–that we have to be mindful of Her journey in this life and be respectful of Her. I’m currently helping the Native American Student Association (NASA) at Kent State University. I call them my kids. I consciously live my day with the importance of community and family. That my whole belief is to encourage the youth, to work with women, to protect our children, and to empower communities to work with each other.”
Why did you choose to be a part of “Until Name Becomes Prayer?”
“I chose because [Will’s] a young man who needs a voice. I chose because the first [artistic steering committee] meeting was incredible–to have such an international voice, brought together to bring him here. And we need to empower our Native youth, and if their voice is through spoken word, song, and spirit, we need to bring it to a wider audience. A majority of our history is not written–our storytellers are important.”
What excites you in your work?
“What excites me is that I am continuing a long, passed on skill. I believe in prayer, and before we make pottery, before we collect, before we step out of our door–we say a prayer. We have to have good hearts, a clean spirit. And so, to make our artwork is like a prayer. Really, it is. You have to have a good heart. Because our belief is we have to pass on our good spirit.”
What are you looking forward to?
“I am looking forward to meeting a lot of good people. I am looking forward to hearing Will’s poetry. I hope to see a lot of Akron there.”