Shirley Mariani was born in Glendale, California and spent her youth in Georgia and on a farm in Illinois before returning to California. She graduated from San Jose State in 1964 with a B.A. in Art, with an emphasis on Interior Decorating. She took courses at Foothill Collage after graduating and studied advertising and design. Using her collage backgrounds to combining both Interior Decorating, color palette, advertising and her fine art skills, Mariani has developed a uniquely recognizable language within her abstract works. Using rag paper collage, paint, and photo montage to create her works on canvas, Mariani's subject matter often references her past experiences of her family life on the farm, from abstracted vegetables and farm animals to the classic front porch and clotheslines.