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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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Crossing Cultures

The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art at the Hood Museum of Art


Shorty Jangala Robertson, Warlpiri, born about 1935

Ngapa Jukurrpa – Puyurru (Water Dreaming at Puyurru)
Acrylic on canvas
Promised gift of Will Owen and Harvey Wagner; EL.2011.60.45
© 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VISCOPY, Australia

With a graphic fluidity, this painting depicts the transformative power of water as it courses through a dry riverbed in the Tanami Desert. The fields of colored dots, applied with a gestural vigor, animate the surface of the canvas and allude to the latent spiritual presence of the Ancestors who shaped and walked through this landscape in the Dreaming. The painting recalls the culturally important narrative of two Ancestral men who belong to the Jangala subsection and "sang" down the rain. They unleashed a great thunderstorm, which would ultimately create the large underwater wells that are fed by underground springs and provide both physical and spiritual sustenance to the region's Warlpiri people.

Last Updated: 8/17/12