Although there were no artists in Lisa Gralnick's family, she was exposed to art at a very young age and attributes her analytical mind and precise mechanical skills to her father. As a young girl she played the violin and thought perhaps she would pursue a career in music, but unexpectedly decided to major in art in college after taking a metals class at a local art center while still in high school. She received an MFA in Metalsmithing from SUNY at New Paltz in 1980 under Professors Kurt Matzdorf and Robert Ebendorf. After completing her graduate degree she taught at Kent State University and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design before settling in New York City in 1982 to pursue her career as an artist full-time. In 1991 she became the Head of the Jewelry and Metals program at Parsons School of Design, a position she held until 2001. She is currently Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Gralnick's career as an artist spans more than three decades, and she has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships for her work. These include four fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, a Wisconsin Arts Board Grant, and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also been awarded prestigious research grants from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, including the Vilas Associates Award and the Kellett Mid-Career Award. She recently completed an oral history for the Archives of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution.