Seta Manoukian was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1945. In 1962, she was sent to study art in Perugia, Italy, later enrolling and graduating from Fine Arts Academy of Rome in Italy. She also studied art in London, England in 1973.
In 1963, she was awarded the First Prize at the Ministry of Culture and Italian Cultural Institute in Beirut, Lebanon. In 1972, the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal, granted her an award for her accomplished artwork.
In 1966, she returned to Beirut and began teaching at the Lebanese University. In 1975, the Lebanese Civil War erupted. An attack on her home city felt like an attack on her. Manoukian volunteered to teach painting and drawing to children from destroyed areas. Her paintings from the period of the Civil War depicted realistic portraits of the citizens of Beirut.
Since 1967, Manoukian has had solo exhibitions all over the globe. In 2010, a documentary, Mother Sela, was produced about the contemporary artist. It followed her life from an artist to her decision to ordain as a Buddhist nun in Sri Lanka. She believes that she has no nationality, only that she is of Armenian origin.
Manoukian currently works and lives in Los Angeles, CA.