Karen Napaljarri Barnes was born in Lajamanu, a remote Aboriginal community in semi-arid country on the edge of the Tanami Desert. She moved to Yuendumu after finishing school in Lajamanu, to be with her family.
She has been painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed Art Centre, since 2001. She is the grand-daughter of Warlukurlangu’s famous artist Judy Napangardi Watson and they would sit together painting at the Art Centre every day when Karen first started painting.
Karen paints the dreaming stories handed down to her by her family for generations of millennia, stories which come from Mina Mina, country west of Yuendumu. Her family are the custodians. She also paints Karnta Jukurrpa (Women’s Dreaming), Wakulyarri Jukurrpa (Wallaby Dreaming), Ngarlajiyi Jukurrpa (Bush Carrot Dreaming) and Ngatijirri Jukurrpa (Bugerigar Dreaming).