Makinti Napanangka began painting Contemporary Indigenous Australian art at Kintore in the mid-1990s, encouraged by a community art project. Interest in her work developed quickly, and she is now represented in most significant Australian public art galleries, including the National Gallery of Australia. A finalist in the 2003 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award, Makinti won the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2008. Her work was shown in the major indigenous art exhibition Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Makinti's works, including her Clemenger Award and NATSIAA paintings, are created with synthetic polymer on linen or canvas.
Many paintings by artists of the Western Desert relate to water, while the story (or "dreaming") most frequently portrayed by Western Desert women is Kungka Kutjarra, or Two Women, concerning the travel of two sisters.Makinti's works reflect those themes, and are particularly associated with a rockhole site, Lupul, and with Kungka Kutjarra. Her untitled painting in the Genesis and Genius exhibition was based on Kungka Kutjarra, while the painting that won the 2008 Telstra award related to Lupul. The iconography of her paintings includes the use of lines representing paths and ceremonial hair-string skirts, and circles representing water-holes.
According to Art Gallery of New South Wales indigenous art curator and NATSIAA judge Hetti Perkins, Makinti and her work are "very dynamic and charismatic". Although a member of the Papunya Tula Artists, Makinti's work has been described as taking "a more spontaneous approach in illustrating the traditional iconography than that done by previous artists painting at Papunya".Her style evolved over time, beginning with gestural brush strokes in ordered compositions, and developing into more closely interwoven representations of the hair-string skirts and designs reflecting those used in body painting. Throughout this evolution, her colour palette has consistently included a subtle range of yellows and pinks, through to oranges and whites.
Judith Ryan, senior curator at the National Gallery of Victoria, described Makinti's entry in the 2003 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award as:
concerned with touching and sensing with fingers, rather than purely visual. The repetition of colour chords and textured striations, which closely echo each other, has a rhapsodic effect akin to many bodies in dance and reveals the inner or spiritual power, the essence, of Makinti Napanangka's country and cultural identity. The energetic lines invoke body paint for women’s business, and more particularly represent spun hair-string, which is used to make belts worn by women during ceremonies associated with the rockhole site of Lupulnga, a Peewee Dreaming place.
Reviewing the same exhibition, Robert Nelson described Makinti's work as "sensual and chromatically effusive painting".The work of the "Kintore ladies" has created "some of the most richly textured surfaces in the history of the (Papunya Tula) company";Makinti's painting for Genesis and Genius was hailed as "a painterly celebration of colour and form"Wikipedia