Mina Mina (2006)
This magnificent work by the Warlpiri artist Dorothy Napangardi depicts a major women’s ceremonial site known as Mina Mina, the artist’s custodial country located near Lake Mackay in the Tanami Desert, north of Yuendumu in the Northern Territory of Australia. Painted in the signature style that evolved out of Dorothy’s return to country of Mina Mina in 1999, this minimalist monochromatic work is more than just a map of her “country”, it is also a place in the history of this region, located as it is over 700 km northwest of Alice Springs.
Using a myriad of white dots against a black background Dorothy has created the movement of sands that gathers and disperses across the canvas, driven by the winds, the sandhills in constant flux, through the artist’s country.
Topographically, the sacred site of Mina Mina is made up of two enormous soakage areas that, rarely filled with water. Existing as clay-pans, the ground dries out and the earth lift at the edges, becoming delineated by salt. Dorothy depicts this process in this work, the white dotting is the crustations of salt stretching across the land.
During the Jukurrpa Ancestral women of the Napangardi and Napanangka sub-section groups (aunt / niece relationship, in which knowledge is passed from one to the other) gathered to collect ceremonial digging sticks (Karlangu) that had emerged from the ground. They then proceeded east, performing rituals of song and dance, to the place known as Jankinyi. A large belt of trees (Allocasuarina decaisneana) now stand where these digging sticks once were.
One of the leading artists of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement, Napangardi’s work is highly sought after by both collectors and curators worldwide. Her paintings and prints have been widely exhibited and are in all national collections within Australia and in major collections worldwide including most recently the MET, New York. Napangardi had the honour of being the 2nd indigenous artist to be given a solo survey exhibition at the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), Sydney that traced 11 years of her painting career in 1991.