Noriko Sakanishi discovered art while a student at Westbrook Jr. College (now the University of New England) and went on to study at the Portland School of Art (now the Maine College of Art). She majored in sculpture and began her professional career carving wood and stone. After developing a severe shoulder problem which forced her to give up carving, she focused on two-dimensional work before gradually inventing a way of creating wall constructions with lighter materials. She lives and works in Portland, Maine.