Dr. Carl Nelson Gorman, DHL

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


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

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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.

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