Maxwell was born in Southern Illinois. She studied towards a B.A at Northwestern University, Illinois, before gaining an MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Since 1988 she has worked at Arizona State University, Tempe, where she presently holds the position of Professor of Printmaking. Maxwell has exhibited widely throughout the US and overseas, including a 2013 residency at Guanlan Original Printmaking Base in Guanlan, China. Maxwell’s practice centres on screenprinting, and veers between abstract and figurative work, frequently referencing identity, nature and the discrepancy between appearance and expectations. She has made multiple works in reference to Hokusai’s famous woodcut print The Great Wave off Kanagawa (c.1820s).