Dorothy’s early artistic endeavors were heavily influenced by memories of her childhood. Her subject matter consisted principally of the Bush Plum and Bush Banana, wild fruits that grow in abundance near Mina Mina, changing in colour as they ripen, depicted in vibrant acrylic tones. Her early paintings swiftly marked Dorothy as an artist of great talent. Her superb sense of composition created a rhythmic effect as semi-naturalistic depictions were entwined in an altogether geometric formation.
In 1997, Dorothy began producing works that traced the grid-like patterns of the salt encrustations on the Mina Mina clay pans, marking a significant artistic shift in her work. Over a three-year period, her paintings became less contrived and increasingly spare, all detail pared back to the barest essentials. These works, in which Dorothy explores the Women’s Digging Sticks Dreaming and other stories related to the travels of the Karntakurlangu, compel the spectator’s eye to dance across the painted surface, just as these ancestral women danced in their hundreds across the country during the regions creation.
As these works developed, her extraordinary spatial ability enabled her to create mimetic grids of the salt encrustations. The lines of white dots trace the travels of her female ancestors as they danced their way, in joyous exultation, through the saltpans, spinifex and sandhills clutching their digging sticks in their outstretched hands.
Kathleen Petyarre has been quoted as saying:
“Those Walpiri ladies, they’re mad about dancing, they go round and round and round dancing, they’re always dancing.”
Little wonder then, that the surfaces of Dorothy’s canvases become dense rhythms of grids, as she maps the paths of these dancing women. Aboriginal dance in the desert is special and can be described as heavily grounded, foot to earth – a physical memory. Her art describes a sensitive relationship between artist and subject, the landscape revealed.
“I really like painting. I really love doing dot paintings. While I’m doing my paintings I always have my family in my mind, I have my country in mind”