Latin American women are known for their power and passion and nowhere more than Mexico is this proved to be true. The path of history has been carved by many visionary doyennes, some whose names are remembered today, but many more whose brave and iconic acts have tragically become lost in the mists of time.
This International Women’s Day we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate some of the more and lesser known leading lights of Mexican history and culture to help ensure that their fearlessness continues to inspire the women of today.
Brave Lola Álvarez Bravo (1903-1993)
Another powerful Mexicana who was determined to be more than just a muse for someone else’s art was the acclaimed photographer Lola Álvarez Bravo. Moving to Mexico City was she was a child, Lola was enrolled at the same school as Frida Kahlo where they became lifelong friends and sisters-in-arms for female liberation.
Lola learnt the craft that she went on to master by assisting her husband, the celebrated photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo . When she expressed a desire to pursue her own interests in the art, Manuel was displeased but she persisted putting a strain on the marriage that was to break down leaving her a single mother. Lola, refusing to be a victim, forged on cementing her name as a successful and acclaimed fine art photographer in her own right.
Emboldened by the odds that were stacked against her, she said: “I was the only female fooling around with a camera in the streets and all the reporters laughed at me. So I became a fighter.”
Finding inspiration on the streets of Mexico City, Lola ventured out alone in creative pursuit despite it being deemed unsafe for women. She was able to support her family through her talents. Lola went on to take a position teaching photography to the next generation of hopefuls at Mexico’s National Institute of Fine Art, rising to the role of Director. And, in 1951, she opened a gallery that would be the first to exhibit Frida Kahlo’s work in Mexico.
The bravery of these female forbearers and their counterparts across the world continues to inspire women to challenge convention and stand up for their rights. May there be many more courageous icons to come now and in the future.