Jeannie Pitjara was born in approximately 1951 in the Utopia region of Central Australia. She comes from a very artistic family, as she is the niece of the late great Emily Kame Kngwarreye and her sister is Rosemary Petyarre.
Jeannie was introduced to art by becoming involved in community projects that became popular during the seventies and eighties in Utopia. These projects include her exposure to making silk batiks. The creation of the silk batiks became so successful that she began exhibiting her work locally and internationally. Jeannie’s batiks depicted where she grew up, with the inclusion of the tracks wild animals make among the flora and fauna of her homeland.
In 1989, she participated in another community project which introduced her to canvas and acrylic paints. This project became wildly successful and the women of Utopia blossomed from the usage of these new supplies. Because of the immense encouragement from her aunt, Emily Kngwarreye, she began to continue family tradition by painting her family’s ‘Yam Dreaming’. In her work, Jeannie portrays the different stages of the plant’s growth including the seed, leaf and flower. The use of the yam plant is a significant one, as it is traditionally used for medicinal purposes for ailments such as sores and bites.
She also portrays Awelye ceremonies in her work, where the women pay homage to their ancestors.