Skip navigation

Cheyenne Courtship

by Mary Spurgeon

Cast bronze on solid walnut base
Dimensions: 25 x 20 x 17
Added to the Oklahoma State Art Collection, 2006

Cheyenne Courtship by Mary Spurgeon

The Artwork

The piece was inspired through the artist's close friendship with the Whiteshield family of the Southern Cheyenne who are located in southwest Oklahoma. To describe the piece, the artist composed this description: "The Cheyenne people were very protective of their unwed women and expected them to be modest and virtuous. A chaperone accompanied each girl of marriageable age. The young man had to meet the approval of the family if he was to become a member. He was judged by his bravery in battle or by his wealth in horses. He could acquire horses by catching wild ponies, by taking them from enemy tribes or cavalry, or gaining them in battle. The tradition was that a young man would wait by the trail and offer his blanket or buffalo robe to share with the girl of his choice. If she chose to, she would step into his robe which he wrapped around them and they could talk for a short time. The Suhtai branch of the Cheyenne dressed very conservatively."

The Artist

Mary Spurgeon was an artist and rancher. She took up sculpting at the age of 70 after having already earned much recognition as a painter. Her prowess as a sculptor led to commissions, exhibition invitations, and much publicity. Spurgeon's interest in western ways, horses, and ranching always greatly influenced her work. In 2006, Spurgeon received an the Governor's Arts Award of Special Recognition. In 2008, the Kansas House of Representatives drew up a resolution honoring her contributions to the arts. That same year, she received a Western Heritage Award and the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) produced a documentary on her life and work.