Rowena Napanangka Tasman was born in 1984. Although her parents lived in Lajamanu, an Aboriginal community in semi-arid country on the edge of the Tanami Desert, halfway between Darwin and Alice Springs, she was born in Darwin, the closest hospital to Lajamanu. Rowena was born to Angelina Nampijinpa (a Warlukurlangu Artist) and Alec Japangardi Tasman. She has three sisters. Her mother and her two sisters (Andrea Napanangka and Selma Napangardi ) also paint for Warlukurlangu Artists. When Rowena was a year old she and her family moved back to Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community 290 kms north-west of Alice Springs, in the Northen Territory.
Rowena began her schooling at the local school in Yuendumu and completed her studies at Kormilda College, an Aboriginal boarding college in Darwin. After completing her schooling she returned to Yuendumu for a few years then moved to Lajamanu. However she felt homesick for Yuendumu so she returned where she continued her painting and worked at the Women’s Centre, a group of volunteers who assist other organizations. Rowena worked in the school kitchen preparing meals for the children. In 2006 she met her husband.
Rowena has been painting with Warlukurlangu Artist Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre located in Yuendumu, since the beginning of 2001, when she was 17 years. She paints her father’s Ngurlu Jukurrpa (Native Seed Dreaming) which her Aunties taught her and her mother’s Ngapa Jukurrpa (Water Dreaming). These dreamings have been passed down the generations for millennia and relate directly to the land, its features and the plants and animals that inhabit it. Rowena uses an unrestricted palette to develop a modern interpretation of her traditional culture.
Rowena enjoys painting at home and at the Art Centre, painting alongside fellow artists. When she is not painting she enjoys her home and is ‘house proud’ creating a clean home to share with family and friends, especially when watching TV. During the holidays she likes to visit family members living in Darwin, Kathryn and Lajamanu—a return trip of approximately 3,502 km from Yuendumu to Darwin.