top of page

Dr. Carl Nelson Gorman, DHL

Kin-yionny Beyeh - ‘Son of the Towering-House’


October 5, 1907 Chinle, Arizona | January 29, 1998 Gallup, New Mexico

A Giant Photo CNG72.jpg

Carl N. Gorman, 1979 - Photo by Georgia Greenberg

My grandfather, Carl N. Gorman, was a well-known and respected teacher, leader, philosopher and artist among the Navajo and western world. He was born October 5, 1907 in Chinle Arizona to Nelson Carl Gorman and Alice Peshlakai Gorman. He attended Albuquerque Indian School where he excelled at football and boxing. In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Navajo Code Talker.

Following his discharge from the Marine Corps, Carl attended the OTIS Art Institute in Los Angeles. During the late 1940s and early 1950s the winds of change were beginning to blow through what had been considered by many (non-natives) to be the traditional style of "Indian Art". Even artists who had studied in the Dorothy Dunn Santa Fe School of Indian Art began to diverge from the restrictive two-dimensional and simple approach to painting. Gorman chose not to paint in the flat illustrative style, he resented it. Instead he began pursuing a modernist style but still incorporated Navajo themes and narratives in his work, his childhood surrounded by the beauty - as only a Navajo could truly see - of Dineh Tah (Navajo Land).

Carl continued to exhibit and sell his work across the southwest from California, Arizona and New Mexico. He was becoming more established as a Navajo painter with a new style. At the same time, in the early 1960s, his eldest son's work was beginning to draw much attention. Carl and R.C. had many Father-Son Shows during this time

"The life of the Navajo is harsh and cruel, a constant battle with nature. Having grown up in the Navajo country,

I am keenly aware of this and try to bring out some of this feeling as well as the desire to portray the culture of my people.

I have always felt that the traditional school of ["Indian"] painting is traditional to the Plains Indians, but not to the Navajos,

and that I can better express my cultural heritage and myself by using whatever media

and technique will best bring out whatever I want to say."

"Gormans - Father, son rebels in Indian art" was the headline of a 1965 article in the Arizona Republic for a March show held at the Heard Museum's Gallery of Indian Art in Pheonix, Arizona.


I was only 13 when my grandfather, Carl, passed. But I grew up with him. He was there when I woke up, and there when I got home from school.

I'm 35 now. Despite my grandfather passing in 1998, I have never known my life without him. He has been here with me. His voice carries in my ears and in my heart. He is without a doubt the single largest influence on my art work.

Carl Gorman Option 1.jpg

1941 - May 4th. Carl and 28 other Navajos are sworn into the Marine Corps . They are transported by bus to MCRD San Diego and designated Platoon 382 - the first "all Indian, all Navajo" Platoon in Marine Corps history.


1944 - PFC Gorman is photographed while serving on Saipan. He and a fellow code talker are injured while on litter duty when a mortar shell explodes near them.


1945 - PFC Gorman is Honorably discharged from the Marine Corps out of a Marine base in Oregon. Awards and Decorations include: Marine Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Marksman Badge with Sharpshooter tab

1964 - Carl R.C. are invited to do a two-person show, "New Directions in American Indian Art", at the Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa, OK.

1965 - Carl and R.C. exhibit together at the Heard Museum's Gallery of Indian Art in Phoenix, Arizona. John Becklaw, rights a review in the Arizona Republic under the headline: "Gormans-Father and Son Rebels in Indian Art"

1968 - Carl loans R.C. Gorman some money to purchase the Manchester Gallery in Taos, NM. R.C. renames it the Navajo Gallery. It is the first Native American owned fine art gallery.


1968 - The Navajo Code is declassified.


1973 - Carl Gorman is elected president of the Navajo Code Talkers' Association


2000 - Senator Jeff Bingaman sponsors the Honoring Navajo Code Talkers Act


2001 - Carl's widow, Mary E. Gorman (Wilson) accepts a Congressional Medal from Pres. George W. Bush on behalf of Carl.

2020 - Carl's work is featured in the Smithsonian Magazine's November issue under the heading "The Remarkable and Complex Legacy of Native American Military Service".


Trapped - Limited Edition Giclée Prints

Now Available


by Carl N. Gorman

Over his 50 year art career - from the late 1940s to his death in 1998 - my grandfather, Carl N. Gorman, produced many beautiful works. His scenes of southwestern life, often taken from images of his childhood on the Navajo Indian Reservation, reflected a lifestyle that revolved around horses. He loved the power and beauty of these animals and would often portray them in powerful stances.

I am very pleased to announce that my mother, Zonnie Gorman, along with the family, has established Carl's legacy into a new LLC that will continue to bring his art forward and perpetuate his legacy. In addition to exhibiting his original works, we will be releasing Limited Edition Giclée prints of selected works.

"Trapped" is an original Acrylic On Canvas painting from 1983. The minimal line work captures the power and beauty of Navajo horses being corralled. Many of you had the distinct pleasure of viewing the original painting in the gallery over the past several months.

Trapped will be released in two editions:

  • A Limited Numbered Edition of 200, 30 x 24 inch (76 x 61 cm) giclée prints that match the original canvas size.
    First ten are being released at $550, then $675 and increasing in price as the edition sells-out.


  • Open Edition, 11 x 14 (28 x 36 cm) giclée prints
    Price: $150

Both editions are printed on 305 gsm cotton paper with archival inks in Taos, New Mexico. The edges are hand deckled to produce a unique and beautiful product to be enjoyed for generations. Each print is pressed with Carl's woodcut motif of his trademark, numbered for the edition, and includes a certificate of authenticity.

bottom of page