I am the product of the efforts of a Mexican woman,
Dolores Olmedo Patiño, also known as "Lola,” is considered one of Mexico’s most well-respected and highly admired women of her time. She boldly forged her own life path and, in the process, likely garnered a few disdainful looks intermixed with the endless words of praise for her position as an independent-minded Mexican woman in the early 20th century.
Ever loyal to her native Mexico, its arts and peoples, Patiño found the art of the famed muralist, Diego Rivera, to be one of Mexico’s greatest riches, worthy of preservation and admiration. Diego, himself, would come to add great richness to her life, as well as she to his, as they became the closest of friends, and some would say, even more. She, herself, was the subject of several of the popular artist’s portraits, as well as one of the greatest collectors worldwide of his highly acclaimed work.
Yet, her close relationship with Rivera’s art was only one aspect of this multifaceted woman. Patiño was also known for her philanthropic works, her keen business savvy (a daring trait for a woman during the time of her business ventures) and her role in her family, as a beloved mother, wife, sister, and devoted daughter.
Maria de los Dolores Olmedo y Patiño Suarez was born in Tacubaya, Mexico City, on December 14th, 1908. Two years later, Patiño and her family suffered alongside the people of Mexico City as the Mexican Revolution raged and starvation and danger were imminent. Even at such a young age, these images and experiences would forever become a part of her psyche. Like Mexico, Lola was to become independent and free -- a force to be reckoned with who could withstand any hardship. In 1914 Lola lost her father. Again, this experience molded her resilience and her ability to persevere.
Around 1924 she met Diego Rivera, who painted a revealing portrait of her, shocking her mother, Professor Maria Patiño Suarez. Her mother was the great granddaughter of a well-known revolutionary military man, from a line of five generations of honored warriors. Likewise, as Patiño learned her family's history, she, too, felt compelled to be a revolutionary, to question old regimes and boldly trod into a new day.
Patiño’s life and career, though evidently not in the military as were her ancestors, seemed to be filled with one accolade after another, as everything she touched, symbolically seemed to turn gold.
Well-educated, she began her graduate work at the Universidad Autónoma de México, studying law for two years at a time when few women reached a university level of education. Yet, her great lifelong passion for the arts and culture of Mexico led her away from that life path and she, instead, chose a career in art, studying at the National School of Music and the Academy of Saint Carlos (la Escuela Nacional de Música y a la Academia de San Carlos). At the time following the Revolution, Mexico was searching for its own identity once again, and the arts and cultural heritage was an inherent part of doing so.
All the while, she remained a devoted daughter, remaining as close as could possibly be to her beloved mother. After her mother passed away, she took on the role of matriarch for the family, helping keep their tight-knit clan unified. She credits her mother for teaching her most of her life lessons -- both literally as her childhood school teacher, and of course, as her mother and confidant. In fact, it was her mother's words, "share what you have with your fellows," that eventually led her into philanthropic work.
To help her family, she, a natural businesswoman, dedicated herself to a work seemingly unrelated to her studies – creating brick-work for the Municipality of Naucalpan by collaborating with several construction companies. She soon became a highly successful industrialist and a prominent businesswoman, becoming the General Manager of a real estate and construction company. Achieving this stature of business prominence would be no easy task in general--but her gender made these feats all the more remarkable, especially given the era during which she achieved them. Women did not run companies. Women especially did not run construction companies!
Especially remarkable and "revolutionary" was that, by this time, Patiño's marriage to Howard Phillips, an artist, had ended, making her the single mother of 4 children. She was a woman before her time -- a beloved single mother, a business owner, the portrait of a woman so different than most other women of her time.
She continued with her construction company, and through the years added other business ventures. Yet, her love of Mexican art and culture was never deterred, even during her busiest times as a businesswoman and mother. Falling in love with the work of her longtime friend, Diego Rivera, she became one of his works’ most prominent collectors. She also came to collect his wife, Frida Kahlo's, works.
Rivera continued to paint portraits of her, portraying her as a “tehuana,” an ideal version of the beauty of Mexican women. After Kahlo’s death in 1954, Rivera and Patiño became nearly inseparable from 1955-1957, the year he died. Rivera stayed with Patiño and continued to paint both portraits of her and her children, as well as other mural art on her Acapulco home’s property.
She spoke with him about her plans to create a museum with his and Kahlo’s work, and he made a list of paintings he wanted her to acquire, many of which she purchased directly from him. She was elected President of the Technical Commitee of the Diego Rivera Trust established by the Bank of Mexico. Soon after Rivera conceded to her the copyright to his artwork, written texts, and documents, granting her the Power of Attorney over all the works she owned.
After his death, she, along with Dolores y Guadalupe Rivera Marín, his daughter, asked the president at the time, Adolfo López Mateos, to consider his work and the work of Jose Clemente Orozco a "historic monument." Their request was granted.
She went on to hold positions both in the department of the federal district, el Distrito Federal, and in the National Institute of Fine Arts (Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes. She was also named general coordinator of the National Council of Tourism between 1963 and 1965. These prominent positions and the seemingly endless number of prominent friends she had gave her the ability to bring exhibitions of her beloved Mexican art to Europe.
Thus, she became known as the defender of Mexican culture and tradition — a title that fit her beautifully. In addition to her promotion of Mexican art, she had long been a believer in the traditions of old, and her work helped to reestablish several of these into the public mindset. One tradition which she held nearest to her heart was the idea that offerings should be left for the deceased on the Day of the Dead, as they would return for them while visiting their loved ones. Death, she felt, was not a final point, but merely a passageway from one life into another. She was well-known for the extravagant offerings she would leave them.
Dolores once stated that everything she had done was, "the product of the efforts of a Mexican woman, taught by another Mexican woman to love her country above all things."
In 1962 she acquired La Noria (the well), an 8 acre estate in Xochimilco, which would serve as her home and eventually come to hold her museum and foundation. The Dolores Olmedo Patiño Museum, which opened its doors to the public in 1994, houses 128 of Rivera’s works and 25 of Frida Kahlo’s, in addition to over 6 thousand archaeological pieces from a myriad of Mexican cultures. In addition, it houses a large collection of antique, Colonial-era furniture, as well as a vast collection of popular art from all around Mexico. Her collection of Kahlo’s work is considered amongst the finest worldwide, a collection that provides an overview of her whole career, including greats such as Self Portrait with Small Monkey (1945), The Broken Column and others. It also includes one of the first pencil drawings Rivera made -- a portrait of his mother when he was only 10, as well as The Watermelons, the last work he painted and signed.
Patiño died at the age of 93 on July 26th, 2002. She donated her collections to the people of Mexico, and left a trust in her name responsible for the conservation and exhibitions of the works of art, as well as for their promotion throughout the world.
Alonside her peers, Patiño represented post-revolution Mexico with every fiber of her being. These prominent people of her generation, so many of whom she was close friends with, were self-made individuals, whose talents and individuality, like Mexico itself, both created and redefined history.
For as much as Patiño is known as the foremost collector of Rivera, Kahlo, and another artist, Beloff’s, work, she should rather be remembered for the overall wholeness she embraced as a woman. She was not merely an art collector. She was a lover of art, of culture, of tradition. She was a highly successful businesswoman and industrialist. She was the beautiful muse of paintings. She was a philanthropist who bequeathed her collection to her Mexican peoples. And she was the love of her family: a highly devoted daughter and an exceptional single mother to her children, Alfredo, Irene, Eduardo, and Carlos Philips Olmedo. She loved her culture and believed in tradition. Yet simultaneously, she was modern, bold, vibrant, daring, and highly determined.
She was a woman not to be contained. She embraced that which she was passionate about without inhibitions — with the fiery spirit of a woman in love with the beauty of life.
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|Charles Francis Feeney is a generous businessman who founded the Atlantic Philanthropies.||Danny Thomas is the founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.||Dolores Olmedo Patino was a Mexican businesswoman, philanthropist, and art collector.||George Lucas is both an artist and a business hero.||Henry Buhl started Project Comeback to help recovering homeless people find work.||Henry Ford introduced the world to a new era in personal transportation.|
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|Ray Anderson is a pioneer of environmental technologies.||Robyn Van En worked to save organic farming businesses in North America.||Sally Fox produced a cotton that naturally comes in different colors.||Simon Velez is a prize winning architect who uses sustainable materials.||Soichiro Honda was a successful inventor and businessman who built the Honda Motor Company.||Unreasonable At Sea radical experiment in global entrepreneurship to solve the greatest challenges of our time.|
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|Adi Roche founded an organization that helps orphans of nuclear disaster.||Aletta Jacobs was a Dutch doctor, a feminist, a pacifist, and a human rights activist.||Alexander Borodin was an accomplished chemist, composer and staunch advocate of women's rights.||Alexandrine Tinne was a young Dutch explorer and the first female to attempt to cross the Sahara.||Alice Baum and her husband Don Burnes left behind their careers to help the homeless.||Alice Waters created the world famous Edible Schoolyard Project.|
|Alicia O'Brien was the inspiration for Cherie Bennett's novel, Zink.||Amy Biehl gave her life to ending apartheid in South Africa.||Amy Charkowski works on the front lines of protecting Earth's food supply.||An engineering mom leads effort to save an old-growth Russian forest||Andrea Mia Ghez is an astrophysicist best known for her discoveries about the black hole at the center of our galaxy.||Angela Brooks is an architect who works to create sustainable and affordable housing.|
Children's Hospice International meet the special needs of children with life-threatening conditions.
|Anna Akhmatova is considered one of Russia's best poets.||Anna Jarvis is the mother of Mother's Day.||Anne Frank wrote: 'Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart. '||Annie Mansfield Sullivan Macy developed new methods for teaching blind and deaf students.||Artemisia Gentileschi was a female post-Renaissance artist who tackled challenging themes.|
|Audrey Penn: |
Just Do It is a medical doctor who has devoted herself to studying diseases that affect muscle control.
|Augusta Ada Byron developed the world's first computer program while struggling with her own personal hardships.||Aung San Suu Kyi has dedicated her life to freeing Burma from a repressive dictatorship and creating democracy without violence.||Azie Morton valued education and gave back to her community.||Barbara McClintock was one of the first women geneticists, and a Nobel laureate.||Baroness Caroline Cox|
|Becky Matkov works to preserve Miami's indigenous history.||Bella Abzug was a New York Congresswoman who fought for women's rights.||Beth Rickard|
Environmentalist is an advocate of solar as the energy of the future.
|Billie Jean King is an advocate for women in sports and champion tennis player||C. Vivian Stringer despite great challenges, pursued her passion for basketball and is known for turning women into champions.||Catherine Malonza saved her brother's life.|
|Cathy Freeman wins races and respect for the plight of native Australian people.||Chamique Holdsclaw is one of the most celebrated players in women's basketball.||Chi Nguyen was honored for helping street children in Vietnam.||Chiaki Mukai is the first female Japanese astronaut.||Chief Wilma Mankiller was the first woman to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.||Christiane Nusslein-Volhard is a Nobel Prize winner and pioneer genetic researcher.|
|Christine de Pisan was a 15th century French poet.||Christine Silverberg was the first female Chief of Police in Canada.||Claire Lalanne founded the Center for Nutritional Recovery.||Clara Barton was known as the 'Angel of the Battlefield.'||Clara Hale was foster mother and founder of the Hale House.||Clara Shortridge Foltz was the first woman to practice law in California.|
|Claudia Gerwin: |
Keeping the Neurons Firing researches how nerve cells relay messages to each other.
|Clotilde Dedecker provides educational opportunities for girls in Afghanistan.||Connie Samaras has created media archives for deep space voyages.||Constance Motley became the first African-American woman judge on the largest federal trial bench in the US.||Corinne Almquist volunteers to restore the tradition of gleaning.||Corrie Ten Boom risked her life to help hundreds of Jews escape during WWII.|
|Courtney Schumacher is an atmospheric scientist and educator committed to mentoring young women interested in science.||Cristina Diaz: |
Biologist studies intertidal and tropical sponges.
|Dame Cicely Saunders founded the modern hospice to provide compassionate, holistic care to the dying.||Dana Reeve was an actress and advocate for the disabled. She was the heroic wife of Christopher Reeve.||Daphna Ziman founded Children Uniting Nations.||Darlene Ketten studies stranded whales and dolphins.|
|Debbye Turner became Miss America and pursued her dream to become a veterinarian.||Deborah Sampson was the first American woman who fought as a man for freedom.||Debra Ruh makes high-tech available|
to the disabled
|DeeDee Jonrowe is a veteran dog sled musher in the Iditarod Race||Derartu Tulu was the first African woman to win an Olympic gold medal.||Dian Fossey worked to protect the endangered Mountain Gorilla.|
|Diane Challis Davy directs the Laguna Beach Pageant of the Masters.||Dilfuza Egamberdiyeva cares for the Earth's soil, researching ways to produce microbes to control plant diseases.||Dina Fesler opens a unique school in Afghanistan||Dolley Madison was admired for her social graces, courage and patriotism as First Lady of the US.||Dolores Olmedo Patino was a Mexican businesswoman, philanthropist, and art collector.||Doreen Van Lee writes about her Chicago childhood.|
|Dorothea Lange captured powerful moments in history with a keen eye for the human condition.||Dorothea Lynde Dix was an advocate for the rights of the mentally ill.||Dorothy (Mama Dot) Humbert inspired her family when she went back to college in her 70s.||Dr. Barbara Ross Lee became the first African American woman dean of a US medical school.||Dr. Caldicott has been a lifelong anti-nuclear activist.||Dr. Carolyn Mazure founded the Yale Women's Health Program and is a forceful figure in the women's health movement.|
|Dr. Elizabeth Kalko |
and the Jason Project studies bats in the Panamanian rainforest.
|Dr. Ella Mae Piper helped young people and the elderly in her community of Fort Myers.||Dr. Elvia Niebla|
Soil Scientist is dedicated to soil conservation.
|Dr. France Cordova is a renowned |
has broken gender
and cultural barriers.
|Dr. Gloria WilderBrathwaite was inspired to provide health care to the poor in the innner city.||Dr. Hawa Abdi is a Somali doctor, human rights activist and nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.|
|Dr. Ines Cifuentes |
Seismologist works to improve science programs for students in Washington, DC.
|Dr. Jeni Stepanek is interviewed by MY HERO's Slater Jewell-Kemker.||Dr. Karen Plaut has been a pioneer in animal science research.||Dr. Kay Jamison is both an expert on, and a sufferer of, Bipolar Disorder.||Dr. Kristi Curry-Rogers is an accomplished paleontologist who travels the globe in search of dinosaur digs.||Dr. Sara W. Lazar|
Neuroscientist - Meditator researches the effects of meditation on the brain.
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was a powerful and independant woman in the Middle Ages.
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|Elizabeth Daley has created an outstanding multi media educational program that serves as a model for the world.||Elizabeth Glaser created the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.||Elizabeth Jane Cochrane|
(Nellie Bly) was a journalist who went around the world in 72 days.
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|Gail Kaaialii: |
Biologist investigates the origins of life and helps others value all life forms.
|Gerda Klein is a Holocaust survivor who works to stamp out intolerance, hatred, and childhood hunger.||Gertrude B. Elion developed |
the AIDS drug, AZT.
|Gina Gallant is an inventor whose |
passion is protecting the environment.
|Grace Lee Boggs has advocated for marginalized people for over 70 years||Grace Murray Hopper was a computer visionary and naval officer.|
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(Miep Gies) kept Anne Frank and her family safely hidden from the Nazis.
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|Jane Mt. Pleasant is an agricultural scientist who looks to the past to meet today's farming needs.||Janet Guthrie First woman to race in the Indianapolis 500||Janet Jagan was the first female president of Guyana and dedicated her life to building the independence of a nation.||Jessie Christopherson helps the physically and mentally challenged accomplish things they never thought possible.||Jessie Daniel Ames worked openly and actively on behalf of racial justice.||Joan of Arc died for her beliefs.|
|Jody Williams is a human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner who began a campaign to rid the world of landmines.||Johnie Sue Reinhard is a cancer survivor who inspires others with her positive attitude and tenacity for life.||Josefina Lopez is a Latina screenwriter |
who believes in the
power of women.
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|Judy Warner worked to create a public high school for technology.||Julia Hill brought public attention to deforestation in California.||Julie Krone a female jockey and first woman to win the Triple Crown||Karen Tse is an attorney dedicated to ensuring basic legal rights for Asian citizens.||Karla Diane Hurrell and her husband have fostered over 150 children.||Kateri Tekakwitha was an early convert to Cathlicism and has been beatified.|
|Kathy Eldon inspired by her son, works for peace and tolerance.||Kathy Eldon overcame tragedy by helping others tackle challenges||Kathy Sullivan was the first American woman to walk in space.||Katie Lee is a passionate advocate for wilderness.||Kelly Perkins climbs mountains to raise support for organ donation.||Kiki Vo suffered terrible burns and experienced bullying in school but has accomplished so much and forgiven so many.|
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to the homeless - by bike
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Friends of the Earth
(Hong Kong) uses education to foster environmental awareness in China
|Mrs. Nirmala |
and the Eradication
of Malaria Project are working in India to educate the public.
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|Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy for Girls has opened up opportunities to South African girls.||Oriana Fallaci was an important Italian journalist.||Oseola McCarty donated her life savings so others could go to college.||Pam Smith-Rodden helped turn a dream into a reality for an author and a community.||Pam Washek rallies a nonprofit Neighbor Brigade||Pedal = Sight tells how a bicycle can change a life.|
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|Queen Rania of Jordan is a crusader for the rights of women and children.||RA Kartini fought for women's rights in Indonesia||Rachel Carson was the mother of the environmental movement.||Raden Ajeng Kartini championed education and civil rights for women in Indonesia.||Raden Ayu Kartini worked to give Indonesian women the right to an education||Raja Weksler helped her daughter survive in a concentration camp.|
|RAWA promotes women's rights through non-violent action.||Rigoberta Menchu Tum was the first Guatemalan to |
receive the Nobel
|Roberta Guaspari-Tzavaras uses music to inspire children to learn.||Robin Lim devotes her life to improving the birth experience so that all humans are born with an intact capacity to love.||Robyn Van En worked to save organic farming businesses in North America.||Rokhaya Gueye treats malaria and|
raises awareness about women's health issues in Senegal.
|Rosa Parks made history when she refused to sit in the back of the bus.||Rosalynn Carter is a humanitarian and former First lady who inspires others through her good works.||Rosario Iglesias was 80 years old when she became a runner and started to win medals.||Rose Marie Thomas donated time and effort to combatting childhood catastrophic diseases.||Rosemarie L. Poeppelman is a foster mom and an adoptive parent who has changed the lives of many children.||Rosemary MacAdam is a young activist determined to fight the oppression of women in sweatshops.|
|Ruby Bridges bravely led the way to desegregation of schools as a child.||Ruth DeGolia:|
Mercado Global works to help poor communities that have seen the collapse of prices for their locally grown crops.
|Ruth Simmons is breaking down barriers in the world of higher education.||Sabriye Tenberken helps to educate and better the lives of blind people living in Tibet.||Sacajawea guided Lewis and Clark across the northwestern territories.||Sally Fox produced a cotton that naturally comes in different colors.|
|Sally Kristen Ride was the first woman to go into space.||Sally Ride, first US woman in space, dies at 61 was the first American woman to go into space.||Sandra Begay-Campbell is a Native American engineer who brings solar-powered energy to the Navajo reservation.||Sandra Kay Yow is a groundbreaking women's basketball coach and founder of Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.||Sandra Postel believes in the importance of water conservation.||Sandra Schmirler was Saskatchewan's beloved curling champion.|
|SAUR MARLINA MANURUNG provides educational opportunities in a remote Indonesian village.||September McGee is an artist and a teacher.||Shannon Hackett studies the genetic diversity and evolution in tropical birds.||Sindhu Ravishankar created the Vivid Vision Project to provide accessible eye care to impoverished communities in India.||Soedati Warsito Rasman is a motivated activist for Indonesia's needy.||Sojourner Truth born into slavery, worked for the freedom of all.|
|Solar Sister Wants to Light Up Rural Africa||Somaly Mam has dedicated her life to finding and mentoring children who have suffered from human trafficking.||Sonia Sotomayor is the first Hispanic US Supreme Court Justice.||Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz was a poet, scholar and early feminist in colonial Mexico.||Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz couldn't live |
|Stephanie Jenouvrier is a population ecologist researching the effects of climate change on emperor penguins.|
|Susan B. Anthony led the early Women's Suffrage Movement.||Susie King Taylor was a pioneer in the struggle for African American women's rights.||Suzanne Mubarak works to ensure education for the children of Egypt and the world.||Sylvia Earle is a marine biologist and ambassador of the oceans.||Tania Ruiz is an astrophysicist committed to science education and helping women reach their goals.||Temple Grandin is a professor, doctor of animal science and an autism activist.|
|Tendol Gyalzur provides a home and family for Tibetan and Chinese orphans.||Thais Corral gives women a voice in their communities through access to communication technology.||Thistle Farms cultivates a better alternative to life on the streets||Titiek Puspa with her music and compassionate lyrics has inspired women throughout Indonesia.||Tostan Founder|
Molly Melching empowers African communities to bring about positive social transformation based on respect for human rights.
|Usha Varanasi is the first woman to lead a Fisheries Science Center.|
|Velma Bronn Johnston worked to save the wild mustangs in the United States||Venus Williams won the 2000 US Open tennis tournament.||Verneta Wallace is saving the world one child at a time.||Veronica Tennant, the Prima Ballerina is an accomplished Canadian dance film producer and director.||Vicky Colbert de Arboleda is a leader in the movement to transform education in Colombia to provide equal access to all children.||Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for President of the U.S.|
|Viola Vaughn founded an organization that supports girls working to achieve academic success in Africa.||Visaka Dharmadasa works to ease the horrors of war in Sri Lanka.||Wang Yani has been painting since |
she was three
|Waris Dirie works to protect the rights of women.||Willa Cather was Pulitzer Prize-winning author and a pioneer in the women's rights movement.||Wilma Rudolph was the first American woman to win 3 Olympic gold medals.|
|Winnifred Mason Huck helped to transform the life experience of American women in just three generations.||Winnifred Mason Huck was the third US Representative and an investigative journalist.||Women entrepreneurs in Ghana help|
ignite an economy boom
Of the Early West were strong, valiant women who broke social constraints.
|Women Making Slow But Sure Strides|
In Science and Math
|Womens Peace Movement of Liberia stopped the violence in through peaceful means.|
|Yuri Mason shared her love of life and peace through the power of her paintings.||Zaha Hadid is the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.||Zoe Koplowitz's Story shows us that 'anyone can complete their own 'life marathon.''||Zohra Ben Lakhdar is a physicist from Africa who does research on atomic spectroscopy.|