Mary McMenamin taught, lectured, and judged at seminars for the National Standards Council of American Embroiderers (NSC), ANG, EGA, and NAN from the mid 1970s to the early 2000s. Her travels teaching and lecturing took her to needlework guilds and shops in over 25 states in the US. She earned her Teacher Certification with the NSC and her Judging Certification with EGA. She served for many years on the faculty of NSC’s correspondence school. Mary completed the Honors Program at the Valentine Museum (precursor to NAN) researching symbolism in the needlework on the Chinese emperors’ robes of the Ming Dynasty. NAN honored Mary in 1996 with its Life Achievement Award.
Mary’s publications include “Panels of Pattern”, a book of beautiful canvas work purses she designed and stitched. The book was co-authored with Julie Goetsch. Two articles were published in July 1999 in ANG’s Needle Pointers magazine. “Chinese Counted Thread Work” reviewed the history and symbolism of Chinese gauze embroidery, and the companion article “Chinese Belt Purse” provided instructions for one of her designs that incorporated the principles.
In the early 1990s, Mary coordinated a project from beginning to end at St. Giles Church in Oak Park, IL for which she designed the cushions for the prie-dieu kneelers. The project included two kneelers used for weddings.
Mary was an avid needlework collector and researcher of white needlework, laces, and antique Chinese needlework. When it came time to donate most of her antique collection for future needle workers to study, she chose the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, the home of NAN’s Permanent Collection. Mary contributed more than sixty pieces from her collection dated between 1875 and 1925, along with written information about each piece.