Born and raised in Michigan, Kathleen Curtis Wilson studied weaving at the Cranbrook Schools and learned the art of sharing a good story from her grandmother, Ethel Alcorn Motherwell. She established Old Abingdon Weavers, a small textile mill in southwest Virginia where she gained insight and a great appreciation for the handcrafts of the region’ s early settlers.
In 1993, she changed her career from entrepreneur to author, researcher, and exhibitions curator.
Kathleen has become a nationally known writer, lecturer, and exhibitions curator in the field of cultural heritage, especially women’ s culture and craft traditions. For nearly 20 years her articles have been published in academic journals and popular magazines such as Country Living and Early American Life.
Her earlier work focused on the cross-cultural connections between the women of the United Kingdom and Appalachia. Kathleen has lectured on such topics throughout the United States, Scotland, and Ireland, often as the keynote speaker. For more of her writing, see Articles.
She is the author of Textile Art From Southern Appalachia: the quiet work of women, and guest-curated a multi-venue international exhibition by the same name for the American Textile History Museum. The exhibition traveled to three southern venues, and concluded a two-year tour at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh.
As a Visiting Scholar and Honorary Fellow at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, Kathleen spent over six years researching all aspects of Irish linen and identifying the finest textiles in private and public collections to photograph for the book, Irish People, Irish Linen.
Kathleen is married to architect David Leonard. They have three children and six grandchildren.
Currently living outside San Francisco, she travels back to southwest Virginia frequently.