Elena Karina was born in China to Russian parents and raised in Los Angeles, California. Two classmates introduced her to clay while she was studying printmaking and painting at the University of Southern California, and she has been captivated ever since. In the ’60s, she spent time examining the sea life left behind by the receding tide near her studio and this became inspiration for her work. Karina received her MA from California State University, Long Beach, in 1971 and moved to Washington, DC, three years later. There, she worked in the White House as art advisor to Vice President Walter Mondale’s wife, Joan Mondale, from 1978 to 1980. She has since moved back to Los Angeles, where she maintains a studio.