Grossman grew up in New York State where her parents worked in the garment manufacture industry. As a teenager she also worked in the factory, an experience which informed the use of fabric and sewing in her art. Grossman was a student of Richard Lindner at the Pratt Institute in New York. Lindner became her friend and mentor, and his subject matter of women in bondage gear influenced Grossman. In 1968 she began the best-known and most striking phase of her work, making a series of sinister heads covered with black leather. Suggesting issues of power, violence and sex, these heads marked Grossman out as one of the leading feminist artists of the period. Grossman also produces collages and drawings and her work frequently refers to the male body.