My Mother’s Country

Installation view of Yukultji Napangati’s “Women’s Ceremonies at Marrapinti” (2015). Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

“My mother’s country, Marrapinti, that’s what I paint about. The ancestors were coming this way and they entered the place called Wilkinkarra [Lake Mackay]. I paint that, and the places Ngaminya, Wirrulnga. They traveled and arrived at Lake Mackay from Yunala. Yunala is the place of bush-potato Dreaming. The ancestors would dig them up and eat them—my mother’s country.” –Yukultji Napangati

This work is on view in Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia through September 9, 2018.

Meet the Marking the Infinite Artists: Wintjiya Napaltjarri

In this series, we introduce the nine artists behind Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia, on view at The Phillips Collection June 2–September 9, 2018.

Wintjiya Napaltjarri, Women’s Ceremonies at Watanuma, 2007, Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 59 7/8 x 71 7/8 in. Collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl © Wintjiya Napaltjarri, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd., courtesy Papunya Tula Artists. Photo: Sid Hoeltzell

Born c. 1930, Malparingya, Northern Territory
Died 2014, Walungurru (Pintupi) / Kintore (English), Northern Territory

Wintjiya Napaltjarri witnessed the birth of the contemproary Aboriginal art movement with the establishment of the Papunya Tula Artists company, the first Aboriginal-owned artist company, founded in 1972, and belongs to one of the first generations of women to paint for the company. Born in the Western Desert, she lived nomadically with her family until the 1950s, when she joined the migration of Western Desert peoples to the Lutheran mission at Haasts Bluff. In 1994, she participated in the Kintore/ Haasts Bluff Women’s Painting Project with a group of 14 other women, ushering in a new era of creative output and the establishment of the Ikuntji Women’s Center at Haasts Bluff. Her work is held in Australian collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Nyapanyapa Yunupingu’s White Painting

Detail of Nyapanyapa Yunupingu’s “White Painting” (2010). Earth pigments on bark

“I do beautiful neat paintings and work. I do paintings, all of it, not with any other colors, like black, only with the white one…I didn’t do trees, rocks or anything else, not at all…I only made designs. My father didn’t teach me, I learnt it myself. I saw my father’s hands painting and then my father said, ‘I want you to do this, my daughter, to work this way. To paint as you are watching my hands.’ He painted as I watched him. As he did this he said, ‘You will do this in the future my daughter.’ The painting I did was my own and I haven’t made any mistakes, none. My lines aren’t tangled and messy, not at all.”–Nyapanyapa Yunupingu

This work is on view in Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia through September 9, 2018.