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 Carl Nelson (Kin-Ya-Onny Beyeh) Gorman  (1907 - 1998)



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Lived/Active: New Mexico/California/Arizona      Known for: Indian figure and genre painting, illustration

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Ad Code: 4
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from Auction House Records.
Firelight Sword Dance
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A Navajo Indian, Carl Gorman ultimately settled in a trailer-studio in Fort Defiance, Arizona where he turned out paintings of horses and other subjects.  He spent much of World War II in the Pacific as one of 29 Navajo code talkers who successfully stymied the Japanese.  Stationed in Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Saipan, he and his fellow code talkers earned much recognition for their significant role in winning the war in the Pacific because the Japanese found no method to decipher the 'code', which was the Navajo language.

Carl Gorman was born October 5, 1907 on the Navajo reservation in Chinle, Arizona to Nelson Gorman and Alice Peshlakai, both Navajos.  His parents were founders of the Presbyterian Mission at Chinle, and his father was a cattleman and Indian trader. His mother taught weaving and also translated many Christian hymns into Navajo. Young Gorman showed early art talent but was warned by his father that no money was to be made with art.

Gorman attended Rehoboth Mission in Gallup, New Mexico and there was punished for using his own language.  He graduated from Albuquerque High School and attended Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles and also took classes at Santa Monica Technical School and South Bay Adult School.  He returned to Chinle and went into the trucking business with his brother until 1936, and then worked numerous jobs including rangerider, land manager, and clerk in an Indian jewelry store.

After the war, he spent time in California as a technical illustrator for Douglas Aircraft and co-owner of a silkscreen company.  He also taught art at the University of California at Davis.

His son was R.C. Gorman, famous Taos, New Mexico artist.

Sources include:
Southwest Art magazine
Jeanne Snodgrass, American Indian Painters

Biography from CN Gorman Museum:
Founded in 1973 by the Department of Native American Studies, the C.N. Gorman Museum is named in honor of retired faculty member, Carl Nelson Gorman, Navajo artist, WWII code-talker, cultural historian, and advocate for Native peoples.

As a founding faculty member of Native American Studies, Gorman was the first faculty member to teach Native American art at UC Davis in 1969.  It is in his honor that we encourage an understanding of Indigenous protocol, territories and knowledge.

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