Betty Mbitjana
Australian, ca. 1954

Aboriginal Australian artist Betty Mbitjana paints patterns in acrylic on canvas, based on footprints in the sand created during ceremonial dances—designs that are typically painted on women’s bodies and handed down over successive generations. Vividly colorful and varied in patterns of coils, undulating lines, and overlapping planes, the paintings record both performances and landscapes. Her images are largely homages to her ancestors and the traditions of her tribe. Mbitjana also integrates elements of her mother’s paintings directly into hers. She is the daughter of the renowned artist Minnie Pwerle, one of the first Aboriginal artists to translate body painting onto canvas.