Cavin’s artwork on display at Oklahoma Capitol
By Christian Toews
November 1, 2022
Dylan Cavin stands with his arms crossed, looking at his artwork on the wall.
“I think my favorite thing about this piece is how detailed the clothing turned out,” said Cavin.
Cavin’s painting “Anumpa Luma Anumpuli” hangs outside the Supreme court’s chambers in the Oklahoma Capital Building. This painting is part of almost 20 newly commissioned monumental and life-sized works displayed for the first time in the Oklahoma Capital Building.
According to the Oklahoma Arts Council, these new empowerments are part of more than 500 works of art that are finally returning to the Oklahoma State Capitol after nearly six years in storage.
Most of the new works were made possible through the Oklahoma Art in Public Places Act, which requires the state to invest 1.5% of eligible capital improvement project budgets in public art. The Oklahoma Arts Council manages state public art commissions.
Cavin is a Choctaw tribal member and was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He said that his heritage holds a special place in his heart. Cavin attended the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma on an Art Talent scholarship. It was here that he found his passion for painting and figure drawing. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree emphasizing graphic design.
Cavin said he began working in design and had designed several successful pet products but felt unfulfilled. He was in a bad relationship and went through a divorce, then decided to join the Army.
“I was just burnt out doing design work, and I just wanted something else,” he said.
Cavin joined the Army, and about nine weeks into the Army, he broke his hip and had to go through a rehabilitation process. He said he spent six months in rehab to get back to one hundred percent. Finally, after those six months, the Army decided to discharge Cavin medically.
At this point, Cavin said he had some time on his hands, which is when he rediscovered his love for creating art. “I just kind of relaxed and got back into watercolors and started drawing and painting again,” he said. Cavin began working at a sign shop designing and laying out signs and banners and storefront signs. He said that his job allowed him to have time to paint on nights and weekends while still working at something he enjoyed.
He said after he began to paint again, he quickly received two offers from two galleries and sold some artwork in 2007. One of these galleries encouraged him to pursue his heritage and paint some historical portraits. He completely sold out at his first show at this native-owned gallery. “I began showing work at Standing Buffalo gallery in Norman, but it closed its doors after a few years. Since then, I have shown at Tribes Gallery in Norman, which I’ve shown at the longest,” he said.
Cavin has many works that were commissioned and displayed inside the Choctaw Casino and Resort in Durant, Oklahoma. He’s won numerous awards over the years from shows such as Santa Fe Indian Art Market, Red Earth Arts Festival, Cahokia Mounds Art Show, SEASAM and Choctaw Labor Day Art Show.
He was featured on the cover of Oklahoma Today in both 2012 and 2016. He has been featured in articles in publications, including Native Arts Magazine, Fine Arts Connoisseur and Southwest Arts Magazine.
Cavin said it was very flattering to have his artwork displayed in the capital. He said it was also an honor to work on this particular piece as an Army veteran and a Choctaw.
“It really wasn’t until I got into the art world and until I started exploring native art and being a Choctaw artist that I began to explore more sides of my heritage, and this code talkers piece is a great honor for me to develop, and I hope it brings more awareness to the code talkers and their legacy,” said Cavin.