Zarina was born in Aligarh, India. After receiving a degree in mathematics; she went on to study woodblock printing in Bangkok and Tokyo, and intaglio with S. W. Hayter at Atelier-17 in Paris.
Her experiences and her personal life define Zarina's works. An early interest in architecture and mathematics is reflected in her use of geometry and her emphasis on structural purity. While her work tends towards minimalism, its starkness is tempered by its texture and materiality. Her art poignantly chronicles her life and features recurring themes of home, displacement, borders, journey, and memory.