Catherine Breer grew up in Seoul, Korea, the daughter of Methodist missionaries. She attended Seoul Foreign School for 11 years and returned to the United States in 1982, earning her B.A. in Art History from Emory University in 1986. While at Emory, she studied painting and drawing at the Atlanta College of Art. She attended the The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and completed one year of graduate level coursework in painting and illustration.