Levine was born in Alberta, Canada, in 1935. Her almost forensic interest in materials stems from her early studies in chemistry at the University of Alberta, where she earned BS and MS degrees in the late 1950s. She studied ceramics at the University of Regina before entering graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1969. Though Levine was rejected the first time she applied, she was eventually accepted on the recommendation of Jim Melchert. After graduating with an MFA in sculpture in 1971, she taught art at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and UC Berkeley. For most of her career, however, Levine worked primarily as a full-time artist based in Oakland, California.