Lorraine O’Grady received her BA from Wellesley College in 1955. O’Grady began making art in the 1980s after working as an intelligence analyst for the US government, a rock critic, and a translator.

Her solo exhibitions include New Worlds, Alexander Gray Associates, New York (2012); Flowers of Evil and Good, Part 1, Alexander Gray Associates, New York (2011); Stress Test, Performa 11, New York (2011); The Face I Had before the World Was Made: Lorraine O’Grady, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (2010); Miscegenated Family Album, Art Institute of Chicago (2008); Lorraine O’Grady / Matrix 127, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT (1995); and Critical Interventions: Photomontages, INTAR Gallery, New York (1991).

Her group exhibitions include Broken Spaces: Cut, Mark, and Gesture, Alexander Gray Associates, New York (2013); Ends and Exits: Picturing Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2013); Blues for Smoke, Museum of Contemporary Art at the Geffen Contemporary, Los Angeles (2012, traveling); This Will Have Been: Art, Love, and Politics in the 1980s, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2012, traveling); Intense Proximity, Art as Network, La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); Agitated Histories, SITE Santa Fe Biennial (2011); Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain (2010); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2010); Until Now: Collecting the New (1960–2010), Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2010); Extended Family: Contemporary Connections, Brooklyn Museum (2010); The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); Undercover: Performing and Transforming Black Female Identities, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta (2009); WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007, traveling); Documenting a Feminist Past: Art World Critique, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007); African American Artists in Los Angeles: A Survey Exhibition; Fade (1990–2003), Luckman Gallery, California State University, Los Angeles (2004); Sexing Myths: Representing Sexuality in African American Art, Betty Rymer Gallery, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1998); Identity Crisis: Self-Portraiture at the End of the Century, Milwaukee Art Museum (1997); The Body as Measure, Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA (1994); Personal Narratives: Women Photographers of Color, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC (1993); Exquisite Corpses, Drawing Center, New York (1993); and Art as a Verb: The Evolving Continuum, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore (1988).