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Touched by the Spirit / Kevin Connywerdy


Kiowa (Cáuigù)1 and Comanche artist Kevin Connywerdy painted his memory-based portrait Touched by the Spirit from his life experience as a member of the Native American Church. The work was commissioned by former Gilcrease curator Dr. Daniel C. Swan for an exhibition titled Symbols of Faith and Belief: The Art of the Native American Church (1999).

Connywerdy portrays a man seated on his knees in a posture of prayer. The meetinghouse, illuminated by fire, is reflected in the abstract, painterly strokes of reds and orange, balanced by halos of lavender. Connywerdy applied warm colors to represent the hour of this event, which takes place between night and the first break of dawn light. The sitter holds a staff with a cross, along with a worked eagle-feather fan made specifically for members of this particular church.

Throughout his career, Connywerdy has been influenced by Indigenous artists such as the Kiowa Six,2 W. Richard “Dick” West (1912–2012), Rance Hood (b. 1941), Allan C. Houser (1914–1944), Doc Tate Nevaquaya (1932–1996), and Ruthe Blalock Jones (b. 1939), some of whom were friends of his father, Truman Connywerdy.

—Jordan Poorman Cocker, Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Scholar for Indigenous Painting Collection Research, 2021

1 Cáuigù is the correct identity used by the Kiowa Tribe.
2 The Kiowa Six (first known as the Kiowa Five) was an early twentieth-century artist collective under the tutelage of Professor Oscar Jacobson at the University of Oklahoma. The collective birthed an Indigenous art movement known as the Kiowa Style of painting, also called Oklahoma Style and Flatstyle, which is characterized by a lack of figural shading, and backgrounds that have a shallow or indistinguishable depth of field. Kiowa Six artists were Spencer Asah, James Auchiah, Jack Hokeah, Stephen Mopope, Lois Smokey (Bou-ge-Tah), and Monroe Tsatoke, and all are represented in Gilcrease.

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Touched by the Spirit
Kevin Connywerdy (Artist)
Native American; Kiowa, Comanche
acrylic on canvas
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
TL1998.121; 0127.2499
Not On View

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