TULSA, Oklahoma – If you can name any medium of art, chances are Randy Kemp has produced a piece in that format. Kemp is a multidisciplinary artist, and has produced works in painting, printmaking, installation, music, film and performance. Some of those works were found on display at the inaugural Mvskoke Art Market April 23 and 24.
Kemp lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Beverly, his son Raven and his daughter Rykelle. His children are artists as well, and appeared in the Mvskoke Art Market alongside their father.
Kemp is a Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizen, as well as a member of the Choctaw, and Euchee tribal nations. He resides as a Senior Environmental Graphic Designer at Arizona State University.
Originally from East Los Angeles, Kemp grew up in Bell Garden. Kemp discovered his passion for art at an early age.
“I attribute that to my brother, who would draw imagery on the back wall of our home, I would go in and do highlights and shading.” Kemp said. “It was kind of like school tuition without the school tuition cost.”
Although Kemp enjoyed drawing throughout his childhood, the thought of an art career did not cross his mind until high school. He would later go on to earn an Associate of Art degree from Bacone College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Arizona State University.
“I really enjoyed it because it gave me empowerment, it really helped me understand where I stood in society as an artist and the views that you take on and paint about,” he said.
The tools available at Arizona State allowed Kemp to expand his talents in graphic design and computer arts, leading to a 30-year career as a commercial artist.
Although his talent can be viewed in many different mediums, Kemp’s favorite to work in is acrylic paints due to its versatility and quickness.
He is also a musician, and can be found playing the flute in various art markets and festivals across the country.
Like other artists working through the COVID-19 pandemic, Kemp has had to readapt his approach to exhibiting his works.
“We had to grow a new leaf,” Kemp said. “That meant that we had to do a lot of online presentations, we had to fill a lot of shows online. Having to work with other artists was difficult, you have to do more on computers, programs, send in files back and forth. It was a different reality for sure”.
Large events like the Mvskoke Art Market have started to symbolize a turning point for Muscogee (Creek) artists looking to exhibit their works and fellowship with other artists.
“This really is an important show,” Kemp said. “It’s important for the Muscogee people and artists to be recognized as part of the show.”
Not only did Kemp exhibit his art works at the event, he also served as an art competition judge. He said the Mvskoke Art Market is significant because it allowed Muscogee citizens and artists to engage in an event that is on par with any other major Indigenous art market in the country.
When asked what his proudest achievement as an Indigenous artist is, he firmly replied it was raising his children. His son Raven currently studies art and technology at the Chicago Art Institute, and his daughter Rykelle is a metalsmith who makes jewelry for her small business. Kemp had the pleasure of presenting alongside his children at the Mvskoke Art Market.
Kemp has also created works in the visual arts producing short films like “Metropolitan Reservation”.
When asked about his thoughts on Indigenous media today, Kemp said with the making of Reservation Dogs it’s a good indicator that “we’re going in the right direction”.
The show was significant to him because it presented opportunities in theater and filmmaking for Indigenous artists that were not available when he was younger.
Kemp’s talents have provided him with opportunities to serve in Native American art markets across the country including New Mexico, California, Oklahoma and Arizona.