Julia Weissman (née Zlabovsky) was born in El Paso, Texas, in approximately 1917. As one of six children, she attended college there and then worked as a self-taught commercial artist and copywriter in a department store. After living in San Francisco briefly, Weissman moved to New York, where she regularly attended exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum. In 1970, she felt quite moved by the exhibition Twentieth-Century Folk Art, curated by Herbert Hemphill, and approached the American Folk Art Museum about writing a book. Hemphill hired her to write the text for the 1972 exhibition The Fabric of the State, and they began their collaboration on Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists soon after that.
Weissman’s work experience was diverse. It included art editing, book and magazine editing, freelance writing and editing, working as a nongovernmental organization representative at the United Nations, and teaching American regional and traditional cooking to Japanese women. She also spent time lecturing on American folk art at Hunter College, The New School for Social Research, and New York University.
Julia was married to Norman Weissman. They lived in Plainview, New York, and had two children. In 1991, they moved to Springfield, Virginia, to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Weissman passed away on October 15, 2015 after a brief illness.
Weissman wrote a history of how Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists came to be written and published in her 1998 remembrance of Herbert Hemphill, published in Folk Art. It may be read at: http://issuu.com/american_folk_art_museum/docs/folkart_23_3_fall1998/8