Gerald Nailor was born in 1917 on the Navajo Nation in Pinedale, New Mexico. He attended Albuquerque Indian School and studied under Dorothy Dunn at the Santa Fe Indian School.
There he became friends with classmate Allan Houser. In the late 1930s, and Houser shared a studio in Santa Fe. During that period they were commissioned to paint murals, including for the Indian Arts and Crafts Board at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D. C. Nailor and Houser later attended the University of Oklahoma where they studied under muralist Olle Nordmark of Sweden.
Thereafter, Nailor painted murals for Mesa Verde National Park, and a monumental series that wraps the interior walls of the Navajo Tribal Council Chamber in Window Rock, Arizona. Nailor served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He married a woman from Picuris and lived at her pueblo until his death in 1952.
His life was tragically shortened due to injuries he sustained trying to protect a woman being beaten by her husband.
Continued interest in Gerald Nailor’s work is a testimony to his talent. His work has been included in selected group exhibitions including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Philbrook Art Center, the Arizona State Museum, the Peabody Museum, the Heard Museum and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Museum of New Mexico.