If you are in search of a mid-winter project and like to write, may I suggest taking on the complete biography of Maureen Power; curator, chemist, folklorist, triathlete, traveler, and maker of beautiful things.
Reading back interview notes from our lunch at The Rooms, her current place of employ as a curator, my jotted lines join by arrows to make sense of amazing life journeys that took her throughout North America and Europe. Almost Korea even, if it weren’t for that stolen passport.
Maureen grew up in Manuels, though her family’s Bell Island roots show through as she gives me a house-by-house history of a lane near “The Convent” (Gracie Joe’s new home on Bell Island), all centering around “the mint green one.” a house whose colour she chose herself as a teenager. Rural roots provided her a strong grounding as she moved first to MUN to study biology, and then on through Europe to travel for a year.
Busy, productive, and fun sum up the next chapter of the story. Maureen racked up a two year program in Costume Studies at Dalhousie and a Folklore degree at MUN. The time in Europe opened doors for her, and she earned her Masters from the London College of Fashion.
Studying fashion curation there, her goal was to finish with as much practical experience in curating exhibitions as possible. Volunteering wherever she could, she ended up working with Lucy Orta, assisted with an exhibition of Liberace’s costumes, and once drove a small fortune of accessories designed by a peer of Alexander McQueen’s around London in a car she’d traded for a case of beer.
There is also a beloved husband in the scenario, Chris, and other life events that led them to time spent in New Brunswick, where Maureen taught, among other things. And then there was a call center, Data Max. She’s worked for Zita Cobb documenting the folklife of Fogo Island, she’s worked for the Town of Torbay and she’s sewn wedding dresses. She’s equally industrious and diligent in home life; quilting, knitting, sewing , crafting, and making soap.
Maureen and Chris have 2 daughters, one of whom has a serious skin sensitivity. When experiments with diet didn’t work, like cutting out chemical additives and heavily processed foods, Maureen used her chemistry background to begin making natural soap. Over the years it has been available commercially under the name Mermaid Soap, and she also teaches beginner and advanced soap making workshops through Seaberry Studios.
Both Maureen and Chris share a commitment to volunteering and to community gardens, as well to their health. Maureen recently trained for an athletic competition she won this week, and Chris is a runner as well. Shared values, Maureen muses, may well have something to do with their strong partnership. This makes sense, but also I figure Chris must indeed be quite a runner if he has managed to keep up with the whirlwind of achievement that is his wife, the amazing Maureen Power.