Zvavahera was born in 1985 in Harare, where she currently lives and works. She studied at the BAT Visual Arts Studio under the auspices of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe between 2003 and 2005, after which she obtained a Diploma in Visual Arts from Harare Polytechnic in 2006.
She has had six solo exhibitions at Stevenson Cape Town and Johannesburg (2014-20), and two at David Zwirner, London and New York (2020–21). The Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean in Mauritius presented a small survey, Walk of Life, in 2020. A two-person show, Portia Zvavahera and Gustav Klimt: A Dialogue, took place at De 11 Lijnen, Oudenburg, in 2019. Zvavahera held a solo exhibition, Under My Skin, at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, in 2010.
Zvavahera currently features in the main exhibition of the 59th Venice Biennale, The Milk of Dreams. She represented Zimbabwe at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 as part of the exhibition Dudziro: Interrogating the Visions of Religious Beliefs at the Zimbabwean Pavilion.
Other notable group exhibitions include The Power of My Hands, Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris (2021); Allied with Power: African and African Diaspora Art from the Jorge M Pérez Collection, Pérez Art Museum Miami (2020); Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M Pérez Collection, El Espacio 23, Miami (2020); Psychic Wounds: On Art and Trauma, The Warehouse, Dallas (2020); Future Genealogies: Stories from the Equatorial Line, 6th Lubumbashi Biennale, Democratic Republic of Congo (2019); Hacer Noche/Crossing Night, Oaxaca (2018); The Fabric of Felicity, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2018); Five Bhobh – Painting at the End of an Era, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town (2018); We don't need another hero, 10th Berlin Biennale (2018); The Contested Body, Minneapolis Institute of Art (2017); Body Luggage, steirischer herbst festival, Graz (2016); I Love You Sugar Kane, Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean, Mauritius (2016); African Odysseys, Le Brass Cultural Centre of Forest, Belgium (2015); Liberated Subjects: Present Tense, Foundation De 11 Lijnen, Oudenburg (2015); and Shifting Africa - What the Future Holds, Mediations Biennale, Kunsthalle Faust, Hannover (2014).
She has participated in residencies at No.1 Shanti Road Studio Gallery, Bangalore (2018); Gasworks, London (2017); Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (2012; and was an artist-in-residence at Greatmore Studios, Cape Town in 2009. She was the recipient of the 10th Tollman Award for the Visual Arts in 2013, and in 2014 won the FNB Art Prize awarded at the Joburg Art Fair.