Nahui Olin (1893 - 1978)

Nahui Olin (Carmen Mondragón) was born on July 8, 1893 in Mexico City. Her father was Manuel Mondragón, an artillery designer who served as Defense Secretary under the government of Victoriano Huerta. At a very young age, she traveled to France where she studied art and learned about different cultures as was the custom for wealthy families of the time. During this period she also starts showing signs of her immense creativity, which is reflected in her first writings and paintings with a strong and impulsive character that was always looking for new and exciting experiences.

At age 19 she announces her wedding to Manuel Rodriguez Lozano, a cadet who she marries in 1913 during the height of the Mexican Revolution. The couple is forced to relocate to Europe when now General Mondragón is exiled after his participation in the "Decena Trágica". It is thought that during those years (1913-1921) they met Picasso and Rivera, among other personalities. As the First World War starts, they move to Spain where they live until their return to Mexico. By now Manuel Rodriguez had abandoned his military career to become a painter. Carmen, on the other hand, gets pregnant but their child dies just a few days after he is born. After this tragic event, the couple start having arguments in which Manuel assures that Carmen had killed their child in a moment of rage, a fact that he could never prove. It is also said that she was with Manuel only to satisfy her sexual impulses and that he did not correspond to her needs, even that he was a homosexual. This conflict is never resolved and in 1921, when the couple return to Mexico, they decide to get a divorce but their parents stop them.

Once in Mexico, Manuel meets Abraham Angel, a 17 year old painter who becomes his apprentice. By letters that Manuel wrote to Antonieta Rivas Mercado we know now that Abraham and Manuel fall in love and that this was the cause for Abraham to commit suicide, with a heroine overdose.

On the other hand Carmen meets Dr. Atl and starts paying him personal visits to his home regularly. This relationship turns out to be one of the most passionate affairs that were ever recorded (through it's more than 200 love letters) in Mexico. Carmen defies the "moral values" and "manners" of the time where women had to disguise their sexual needs. She breaks through all paradigms creating controversy, scandal, and even rejection from her whole family and friends.

It is Gerardo Murillo, who had changed his name to Dr. Atl (Doctor Water) after an experience on board a cruise, who following his tradition changed Carmen's name to Nahui Olin, which meant the day of renovation of cosmic cycles in the native cultures of Mexico. They share their passion in, painting, writing, making love and other ways which allow them many years of intense creative work. She becomes well known for her work in the "Naïf" style with typical images from Mexican society and culture, as were the pulquerias, portals, feasts, etc.

Nahui finds herself socializing with people like Tina Modotti, Antonieta Rivas Mercado, Frida Kahlo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, among others. It was then that Jose Vasconcelos, Secretary of Education, started to promote the Muralist movement in Mexico where Olin and Modotti became popular models for the artists. In 1923 Nahui meets photographer Edward Weston, who also uses her as a model for some of his finest work.

In late 1927, the War of the Cristeros ensues. Most of Mexico finds itself under a sea of bullets and it is then that Nahui starts a relationship with painter and caricaturist Carlos Santoyo. They travel to Hollywood where Rex Ingram, after working with Greta Garbo, is impressed by Nahui's beauty. He invites her to participate in one of his films, but she refuses and decides rather to pose nude for Weston and another photographer by the name of Antonio Garduño, as a form of expression.

During the 1930's Nahui falls in love with Eugenio Agacino, a captain of a Spanish Cruise Ship. She takes frequent trips to Veracruz to meet with him and paints herself with him in places like Manhattan and Cuba. Eugenio dies in 1934 and from then on Nahui is alone. She buries herself in writing and painting. She edits the book "Energia Cosmica" (Cosmic Energy) and starts writing music behind her piano. She also adopts many esoterical beliefs. In 1945, four of her paintings are displayed during an exhibition at the Palacio Nacional de Bellas Artes among artists like José Clemente Orozco and Pablo O´Higgins.

In her final years, Nahui lives in downtown Mexico City surrounded by cats and being subject to children throwing stones at her in the street. She works at a night school giving art lessons and she consumes herself slowly giving into her cosmic world, her cats, her writing and her Alameda Central park. As she ages, she has several operations and seeing death near, she asks one of her nieces to move her into the room where she had been born almost 85 years before. On January 23, 1978 Carmen Mondragon, Nahui Olin shuts her big green eyes for the last time.

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