Reclaiming the Native South festival at Middle Georgia State University discusses art and advocacy


Guiliano Graniti presented a Native music presentation at the Art Advocacy event held on April 11 in Middle Georgia State University’s Art Complex in Macon, Ga. (Photo by Macee Palmer)

Middle Georgia State University’s (MGA) School of Arts & Letters hosted an art festival with the theme of Reclaiming the Native South. An Arts & Advocacy in the Native South program was held on April 11 in MGA’s Arts Complex. Advocate Tracie Revis, multi-disciplinary artist Randy Kemp, and MGA faculty and music scholar Guiliano Graniti gave presentations. 

Randy Kemp is an artist and musician. During the Art & Advocacy event, Kemp gave two flute performances. These performances were introduced as calls. The flute call at the beginning of the event was described as a call to gather and open our minds to learning new things.  

Randy Kemp and Tracie Revis have a distinct connection to Middle Ga and a stake in reclaiming the Native South. Both are members of the Muscogee (Creek) nation, which is the people group forcibly removed from Middle Ga, in the 1820s and relocated to Oklahoma. 

Revis serves as Director of Advocacy for the Ocmulgee National Park & Preserve Initiative. She formerly served as Chief of Staff for the Muscogee nation but moved to Georgia to join ONPPI’s efforts to protect the Muscogee homeland as a national park and preserve. Revis’ presentation summarized the native history of the land. She discussed land acknowledgment and the remaining ties Muscogee people have to the land. 

“It matters because we still exist our stories, our names, our places are still etched on this land, who we are is what helped lay the foundation of what this land is today,” Revis said. 

Graniti is a classical pianist and scholar of indigenous composers. As a scholar and not a member of any native people group, Gratini said he hoped his presentation would amplify the voices of indigenous composers. His presentation focused on the work of Quapaw composer Louis W. Ballard. Gratini performed a few of Ballard’s pieces and explained the distinction of Ballard’s work from European composers.

Amy Berke, Associate Dean of the MGA’s School of Arts & Letters spoke to the meaning behind the festival’s theme. 

“It is our hope and our effort that your [event attendees] understanding of what the South means will be realigned by the events,” Berke said. 

MGA’s Reclaiming the Native South Festival held events March 27 through April 14. For more information on the festival and its events visit MGA’s website