Meet Marie Thérèse Hermand de Arango Life president of Association of Friends of the Museum of Popular Art (AMIGOSMAP). She was awarded with the Women Together by The UNITED NATIONS, for promoting cooperativism among artisans, she is considered one of the most powerful women by Forbes Mexico.
Who is Marie Thérèse Hermand? define yourself.
A mixture of origins, middle east, Europe and Latin, a very happy childhood, an extremely diverse life with uniquely difficult situation and the best parents in the world.
You were born in Cairo to an Egyptian mother and a Belgian father. With the Nasser revolution, you had to flee because your mother belonged to a family of landowners and your father was foreign, how this situation marked your childhood?
I lost all my family and friends. Egypt is a country, I consider myself very happy to be born in. I adored it.
"We are as worthy and necessary as men. I have been dominated by my husband but I have taken significant decisions by myself. I feel quite free especially in my way of thinking"
You have had a very exciting life living in NY, Mexico, Paris, you speak 5 languages, you worked on the International Olympic Committee in 1968 with Prince Alexandre de Merode and worked during general conferences at UNESCO as an interpreter, what was the biggest lesson you learned over those years?
Due to the education I received, I was able to cope and rise with the change in general.
You got married to Manuel Arango in 1975, you have two daughters: Manuela and Paula, You are considered s one of the strongest couples in Mexico. Many authors say women can and must strive to have everything – a shining career, a blossoming family life and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once, others point out that– then women are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves, so according to your experience, what do you think about these statements?
I am, strangely enough, not a feminist. I think we are genetically different and fighting it is not the thing to do. We are as worthy and necessary as men. I have been dominated by my husband but I have taken significant decisions by myself. I feel quite free especially in my way of thinking.
"Having a worthwhile goal! enthusiasm and many friends cooperating on the board, that has been extremely helpful and very much a part of my success"
How are you as a mom/ wife?
I have been a European wife, which is not the ideal in the Mexican way of behaving, as far as a mother, I have been extremely tough with my daughters, maybe I would change some of the disciplines if I were to do it again but not much. They have grown to be independent girls and very strong.
Mexican crafts are an invaluable treasure, a sample of national ingenuity. For 20 years, you have promoted the social development of communities engaged in the creative trade, while promoting the rescue of manual techniques, Where does your interest in popular art come from? what does it drive you to help?
Mexican popular art, that is what we prefer to call it, is unique. ever since my childhood in Egypt, I collected and admired the local one. Here I found an even bigger diversity, of material and inspiration. Have you ever heard of “chilte “ (meaning sap) popotillo, plumaria?
I have seen so many wonderful artists with a low level of living and no possibility to grow, that I realized it was time to give them that opportunity in the MAP, la casa del artesano !!!!!! many of them have decided to stay in Mexico, not to be immigrants, organize their community and produce more for the three stores of MAP that has grown, an excellent reward for our work.
"Talking, talking, talking to everybody and receiving the media’s help always"
In 2009, the UNITED NATIONS awarded you with the Women Together with the award, for promoting cooperativism among artisans, you are considered one of the most powerful women by Forbes Mexico, you received the medal for "Woman of the Year”, you spent TWENTY years of your life raising funds for the opening of Popular art museum, your work has been recognized by various institutions and in different media outlets, what´s the recipe of your success?
Having a worthwhile goal! enthusiasm and many friends cooperating on the board, that has been extremely helpful and very much a part of my success.
What is the reality of your day-to-day?
Very varied and fascinating, though tiring.
Do you have any particular philosophy that guides your career decisions?
Never give up.
What do you love most about your job in the museum? & what is the most difficult part?
The variety, creativity, and human contact, the most difficult part: dealing with the government even though they are friends.
As an expert in art, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do in this sector?
Insist on quality and persevere.
" I deeply believe that achieving whatever you decide to do, is an important part of your happiness, nearly as much as a good family"
What is one strategy that has helped you to grow the museum?
Talking, talking, talking to everybody and receiving the media’s help always.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My grandchildren are extreme joy, swimming, and tennis.
What are your plans for the future?
Try to organize a new, fresh and active board.
What tips, can you give to young girls who want to become like you?
Have a worthwhile goal and stick to it.
I think in your position, many people may have the wrong idea of who you are (personally), and what do you (professionally), with this idea in mind, what is being Marie Thérèse and what´s not?
I am a very simple and sincere person, as you can imagine, that in Mexico is not easy fortunately it has worked.
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
My mother, without a doubt, she suffered the revolution in Egypt, she had to leave her country, her family and many earthly belongings, having to adapt to two new ways of life, New York and Mexico.
Something else do you want to add or share with us?
I deeply believe that achieving whatever you decide to do, is an important part of your happiness, nearly as much as a good family.
Name: Marie Thérèse Hermand de Arango
Company: Association of Friends of the Museum of Popular Art (AMIGOSMAP)
Designation: Life president