The content on this page is aggregated and is not affiliated with the artist.
In 1931 Catlett won a scholarship to study art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, but was rejected admission due to her race. Instead, she attended Howard University and studied under Lois Mailou Jones. While at Howard she worked briefly for the WPA. After graduating, she worked for two years as a teacher in Durham, North Carolina where, alongside NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall, she fought for equal wages for Black teachers.
Frustrated by the segregated South, Catlett left to study at the University of Iowa under Grant Wood. Wood’s encouragement transformed the direction of her work into one that would explore and celebrate African American culture and the lives of women. Catlett was the first student to earn an MFA in Sculpture from the university and her thesis piece, a limestone sculpture entitled Mother and Child, won first prize in sculpture at the American Negro Exposition in Chicago. While in Chicago she met her first husband, the artist Charles White.