Canan Tolon was born in Istanbul and grew up in various European towns. After receiving her baccalauréat from the Lycée Français in Istanbul in 1975, she studied design in Edinburgh and in London. She received a BA from Middlesex University in 1980, and that year moved to the Bay Area to get a Masters in Architecture at University of California at Berkeley. After graduating in 1983 she worked for several architecture offices for about ten years while continuing her work in the visual arts. Her paintings and installations have been exhibited internationally. She is represented by Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco, Galeri Nev in Istanbul, and Galeri Nev in Ankara. She lives and works in Emeryville, CA.