Petra Szilagyi was raised in Los Angeles, CA the product of Afro-Caribbean and Hungarian immigrant parents. Her grandmother was a surrealist artist, Kara Sheppard, whose work was a formative influence on Petra. Petra began showing her artwork in 1999, age 12, when she created wheat paste posters of fanged cartoon nuns, which she anonymously posted in Los Angeles public spaces. She continued to practice illustration and graffiti, along side her studies. In 2001, Petra received a full scholarship to the private high school Concord in Santa Monica, CA. During this time she became a devout fan of John Waters, Leigh Bowery, 1970s glam rock the history of graffiti. She accepted a full academic scholarship to attend Williams for the fall of 2005. She graduated with a degree in Studio Art in 2010, having spent a year between semesters to study farming and permaculture. During her time at Williams she was given scholarships to study German in Munich, Germany, to study rugs and textiles in Turkey, and to pursue a residency at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Lagos, Nigeria, where she created a series of collaborative performance art works with acclaimed Nigerian artist Jelili Atiku and organized and facilitated a video art workshop for Nigerian artists.
Presently Petra lives and practices in New Haven, CT.