Zarissa Napangardi Michaels was born in 2000 in Alice Springs Hospital, the closest hospital to Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community 290 km north-west of Alice Springs in the NT of Australia. She is the daughter of Geraldine Napangardi Wilson and granddaughter of Alison Nampijinpa. Zarissa went to the local school in Yuendumu before going to Shalom Christian College, a boarding school in Townsville. When she returned home, she worked for The Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP), a Program that works with individuals, communities and local employers to help more people into jobs and build stronger communities.
Zarissa began painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre located in Yuendumu and Nyirripi, in 2018, soon after leaving school. She paints her father’s Lappi Lappi Jukurrpa (Lappi Lappi Dreaming), ‘Dreamings” that relate directly to her land, its features and the plants and animals that inhabit it. These stories were passed down to her by her father and his father’s father before him for millennia. She loves painting and loves colour, and uses an unrestricted palette to depict her traditional iconography, at the same time developing a modern individualist style, using pattern and design in a variety of contexts.
When Zarissa is not painting, she likes looking after her sister’s baby.