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 seven solo exhibitions at Stevenson Cape Town and Johannesburg (2014-20), one at Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles (2017) and one in the Upper Room at David Zwirner, London (2020). The Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean presented a small survey exhibition by the artist titled Walk of Life (2020); and a two-person show, Portia Zvavahera and Gustav Klimt: A Dialogue, took place at De 11 Lijnen, in Oudenburg, Belgium (2019). She held a solo exhibition, Under My Skin, at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in 2010, and has taken part in numerous group exhibitions in Harare as well. 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.
Group exhibitions include The Power of My Hands, Musée d’Art Moderne (2021); Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, El Espacio 23 (2020); This Corrosion, Modern Art, London, UK (2020); Psychic Wounds: On Art & Trauma, The Warehouse, Dallas, USA (2020); Future Genealogies: Stories from the Equatorial Line, 6th Lubumbashi Biennale, Democratic Republic of Congo (2019); Hacer Noche/Crossing Night, Oaxaca, Mexico (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, the 10th Berlin Biennale (2018); The Contested Body, Minneapolis Institute of Art, USA (2017); Body Luggage, steirischer herbst festival, Graz, Austria (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, De 11 Lijnen, Oudenburg, Belgium (2015); and Shifting Africa - What the Future Holds, Mediations Biennale, Kunsthalle Faus, Hannover (2014).
She has completed residencies at No.1 Shanti Road Studio Gallery, Bangalore (2018); Gasworks, London (2017) and was an artist-in-residence at Greatmore Studios, Cape Town, in 2009. In 2013, Zvavahera was the recipient of the 10th Tollman Award for the Visual Arts, and in 2014 won the FNB Art Prize, awarded at the Joburg Art Fair.