Dorothy Napangardi was the daughter of Indigenous Australians Jeannie Lewis Napururrla and Paddy Lewis Japanangka, born in the early 1950s in a location referred to as Mina Mina, near Lake Mackay in the Tanami Desert.
She grew up in the settlement town of Yuendumu, and spent most of her life in Alice Springs, where she began painting in 1987. She had little formal schooling, but was instructed in the historic Dreaming of her people.
Napangardi’s work is found in many museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Queensland Museum, Brisbane, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, the Linden Museum, Stuttgart, Germany, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
She had many exhibitions in Australia and overseas.
Napangardi was killed in a car accident on 1 June 2013.