Published on June 2, 2014 by Carol
R. C. Gorman Navajo Painter was born in Chinle, AZ, 26 July 1932
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Native American Navajo painter, printmaker and sculptor. The style that he developed stemmed from his experiences in Mexico and reveals the influence of his teachers as well as that of the Mexican muralists. He maintained a studio and gallery for his own works and those of other Native American artists in Taos, NM.
Gorman’s Artistic Style
While Gorman has handled such subject-matter as interpretations of Navajo rugs and pottery designs, his most successful and best-received works have been his studies of Navajo women. He portrayed them as archetypes; as monumental, nurturing ‘earth mothers’.
In his paintings, Gorman grouped women in conventional poses or portrayed them in domestic pursuits, ranging from stolid affirmations to revelations of inner beauty and grace.
Using various media, Gorman sometimes painted in acrylics, or drew the same subject in pastels and pencil. He worked out personal technical processes and used these with great effectiveness.
His style was well-suited to lithographs, which he has produced in great number. He has also produced sculptures.
Gorman’s Main Subject: Women
Gorman said he liked to capture the beauty of his people, especially the women. As he explained in his autobiography, “Navajos always had respect for strong, powerful women who would go out and chop wood, herd sheep, have babies in the field. My Indian woman isn’t glamorous but she is beautiful. She is earthy, nurturing, and it is a constant challenge to capture her infinite variety.
“I deal with the common woman who smells of the fields and maize. She lives and breathes… . My women work and walk on the land. They need to be strong to survive. They have big hands, strong feet. They are soft and strong like my grandmother who gave me life.
“My women are remote, withdrawn in their silence. They don’t look out, but glance inward in the Indian way. You know their faces, but not a thing about their thoughts. They do not reveal whether they are looking at us or not.
“I like to think that my women represent a universal woman. They don’t have to be from the reservation. They could be from Scottsdale or Africa. They’re composites of many women I’ve known.”
Gorman used live models when he drew Navajo women, but not all of his models were Navajo. He said that by throwing a blanket over a Japanese woman, he could end up with a Navajo model. In fact, one of his favorite models was a young Japanese woman.