Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1960, she attended the High School of Art and Design and the School of Visual Arts in New York where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. After receiving her BFA, she traveled to Europe and Africa, developing skills in documentary photography, her earliest works. While traveling, she became inspired to expand her work beyond the field of photography in order to challenge and engage the viewer.
It was these ideas that she worked on while earning her Master's of Fine Arts degree from the University of California at San Diego in 1985. Her education in San Diego was somewhere between Photography and Conceptual art, and her teachers included conceptualist Allan Kaprow, performance artist Eleanor Antin, filmmakers Babette Mangolte and Jean-Pierre Gorin and poet David Antin. What emerged was her signature style of "photo-text", in which graphic text is inserted into studio-like portraiture, bringing new conceptual meaning into the works. These works generally related to the perception of African-American women within American culture.