by Carl N. Gorman - Kinyionny Beye
[Son of the Towering House]
Tile Mosaic Table (Now as wall hanging)
17.5" x 36" x 1.125"
Tile Count: 3,120 mounted on board and grout.
Made up of 3,120 individually placed tiles, this tile mosaic is a very early and rare example of traditional Navajo ceremonial artwork in a contemporary medium, pre-dating the Contemporary Native American Art Movement.
From this work, Gorman would derive the Navajo Code Talker emblem which has been worn on the Navajo Code Talker Association uniform and was included in the design of the Congressional Medals awarded to the Code Talkers in 2001.
The sandpainting would be created while a medicine man sang the story being depicted and destroyed at the conclusion of the ceremony. The image depicted is that of the Hero-Twins receiving a gift from Talking-God: a pair of ‘Sticks’ which allowed them to communicate across great distances during battle. As the Code Talkers used the Navajo Code over the radio to confound the Japanese in WWII, Gorman found this a fitting symbol for them.
The Navajo Code was first created in 1942 by the Original Pilot Group made up of 208 terms. The Code was used from the Battle of Guadalcanal through the occupation of Japan.
Gorman was a part of the First Twenty-Nine Code Talkers who created the Code. He was in the 2d Marine Division and fought in four campaigns: Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Tinian, and Saipan. After the war, he used the G.I. Bill to attend studies at the OTIS in Los Angeles. He would go on to do several art shows in California, Arizona, and New Mexico as a “rebel in American Indian Art” including shows with his son, R.C. Gorman.
He was a member of the founding faculty for the Native American Studies program at the University of California at Davis in the 1970s and the namesake for the C.N. Gorman Museum on their campus.
Carl’s likeness was used in a 1978 bronze sculpture by his son, RC, as an “Homage to Navajo Code Talkers.” A 4-ft enlargement of this sculpture was commissioned by Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, R.C.’s Alma Mater as a monument to the Code Talkers.
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