Year of Birth: c.1956 Region:Tanami Desert, NT Community:Yuendumu Outstation:Pikilyi Language: Warlpiri Social Affiliation: Napangardi Subsect
Dorothy Napangardi was born in the Born in 1956 in Pikilyi in Tanami Dessert, which is situated approximately 400 km north west of Alice Springs. Living a traditional life style until the early 1960s when her family group walked into the pastoralist station of Mt Doreen, Dorothy was taught about her country and the Dreamtime by her mother through method of story telling, song and dance.
Dorothy began painting in 1987 at the Centre for Aboriginal Artists. Her style is reflective of her early association with artists such as Rosie Nangala Fleming, Peggy Napurrula Poulson and Eunice and Pansy Napangardi. Initially, Dorothy primarily paints the Mukati (Bush Plum) and Women's Dreamings in a characteristic bright and vibrant style that is full of movement. Holding a senior position in the field of traditional law within the Warlpiri society, Dorothy's works play an integral role in the preservation and communication of her Dreamings. Her father is the most senior custodian of the Pikilyi sacred site, having inherited her rights through her patrilineal line the importance of her contribution to the Aboriginal art movement is magnified. When painting Women's Dreamings she refers to the Mina Mina site, which is a highly significant site as it is recognized as the point of origin for Karntakurlangu Jukurrpa for both the Kukuja and Warlpiri. Containing two large clay pans and numerous water soakages the land is relatively fertile. It is also thought to be the place where the digging stick originated, emerging from the ground during the era of creation.
A number of factors have influenced the development of her style. However, it is thought that an exhibition trip to Sydney in March of 1998 marked a significant turning point in her work. Exposure to the work of other artists proved inspiring, but perhaps her return to Mina Mina was the most influential factor in her development. Having not returned since childhood, she was offered further specifics and knowledge concerning the stories of Mina Mina, leading to the vast dimension, incredible intricacy and extreme stylisation of her paintings.
As the mother of five daughters, Dorothy teaches her stories and Dreamings as she was taught. She is highly involved in women's ceremonies within the Warlpiri society and currently moves between Yuendumu, Alice Springs and the birth place of her second husband, Camooweal in Queensland