Debra Young Nakamarra comes for an important and influential family of artists from the Western Desert region in Central Australia. She was born in 1964 to parents; Walangkura Napanangka and Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula; both of who are famous Western Desert artists represented by Papunya Tula Artists. Along with Debra, her two sisters’ Lorraine Yungut Nakamarra and Katherine Marshall Nakamarra are also emerging artists in their own right. Debra began painting in 1984 along with her sisters, under the guidance of their mother who taught them their Dreaming stories. Walangkura also shared with them the important traditional Aboriginal iconography used to depict stories through art. As such Debra’s works are similar and fit within the Papunya Tula movement with thick paint application and dots which join. Of course Debra has made her Dreaming her own by adding her own preferred colours and individual touch. Debra’s depictions are bold, strong and culturally significant for Pintupi women.
The women’s stories which Debra is known for share the sacred knowledge of women’s places where Dreamtime stories are shared and handed down through the generations. She focuses on the geographical features of the Western Desert around Kiwirrkurra and Papunya, displaying rock holes, sand hills and caves. The traditional iconography represents meeting places and the landscape and encompasses all the important “business” which occurs at these sites.
Debra mixes the traditional designs with layers of thickly applied dots, and as you view the artworks you get a sense of the important stories which are shared through the artwork on multiple levels – through the land and the emotional connection between women as they share stories and participate in ceremonies. Debra’s works have begun to be exhibited more in the recent past with her works being recognised and admired by local Alice Springs galleries and around Australia. She is an emerging artist and the stories that are shared through her artwork are important and sacred for Pintupi people and as such should be included in any collection.