We Asked Artists To Illustrate Their Love For Selena In Larger-Than-Life Murals, Here’s What They Created
When thinking about celebrities who shaped the lives of so many, nine times out of 10 you will hear the name Selena Quintanilla. Selena was one of the biggest pop culture icons in the 90s. She lit up every stage she twirled onto with her bedazzled bustiers and ear-to-ear smile.
Much of Selena’s stardom was incubating in the 80s, where she started on her journey to fame. Because after all, her backstory and her undeniable talent are what drew most people to her. Back then, there were countless female performers who were topping charts, but few felt like they really represented us.
Selena and her family were a reflection of all of us growing up, living everyday life, chasing their dreams.
But just how similar was Selena’s life to ours? We’ve seen Selena in the spotlight, but even Selena superfans haven’t seen much of the star before she became the legend we all fell in love with.
Fortunately, Netflix is releasing Selena: The Series on December 4, 2020, which will give fans an inside look into the Tejano legend’s coming-of-age story. We not only see Selena develop into a star, but we see the impact AB and Suzette Quintanilla had on the legacy of Selena y Los Dinos. Suzette inspired young girls to play musical instruments and through AB, we see what it takes to become a top music producer at a young age.
With the series, fans will see more intimate moments that shaped Selena’s upbringing. Audiences will see how her parents’ Mexican-American work ethic impacted Selena’s career and also for the first time get to understand more about the moments of struggle her family went through to help catapult the future star’s career.
In celebration of the series launch, we asked U.S. and Mexican artists to translate Selena’s inspiration in the form of a mural.
These larger-than-life art pieces will live across the United States and Mexico to honor Selena and the Quintanilla family.
When we approached these artists, they were completely thrilled by the opportunity to showcase their appreciation for Selena. Here is more about the artists and what this opportunity has meant to them:
Donkeemom (Sylvia Roman) – Houston
I listened and still listen to Selena. In certain ways I relate to her story, like making art at a young age. She’s a huge inspiration because she started as a kid, worked alongside her family, had a spectacular voice, was an incredible dancer, she designed clothing. She always seemed happy with her grand smile, she reached great heights. Working on a project that tells her story is hugely emotional and a great satisfaction because I am a fan for life.
I’m incredibly proud of Selena, of how she broke so many barriers in her life and represented Latinxs and made us feel like we can make our dreams come true. I identify with the song “Amor Prohibido” but I have to recognize that I’m obsessed with all her songs. I’m immensely grateful as an artist to be part of this project. This is definitely an iconic moment in my life which I will never forget.
Donkeemom’s mural will be posted 11/30-12/13 at 2101 Polk Street Houston, TX 77003.
Emilia Cruz – Los Angeles
I’m honored to be asked to participate in this project and I have loved working on something so special! Like so many, I listened to Selena nonstop growing up.
I really connected to Selena when she spoke about identity. Being a first-generation Mexican-American I’ve always been searching for a sense of “belonging” because I never felt like I was enough for either
culture. I love honoring my roots and representing them as much as I can with my art the same way Selena did with her music. I think a lot of us who are Mexican-American or Latinx identifying, as kids we always had a hard time looking at the mainstream media and finding anyone who was familiar to us.
Being able to see someone like Selena become so successful just by being her unapologetic self was (and still is) so important.
I think currently my favorite song is still ‘Que Creías’ because I listened to it after being heartbroken a few years ago which I laugh about now because I would get dramatic singing along to it in my car, but it honestly helped me let out my emotions. At the same time, I get so hyped when ‘Baila Esta Cumbia’ plays when I’m out dancing with my girlfriends and even if we are sitting it’s almost mandatory that we get up when her songs play (pre COVID days).
Emilia Cruz’s mural will be posted 11/30-12/13 at 1200 South Hope St Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Tatiana Suarez – Miami
As a kid, music in my household consisted primarily of Jazz and Brazilian influence. So while I personally didn’t grow up listening to her music, Selena was undoubtedly a presence within pockets of South Florida and the Latin American community. I became more familiar with her music during middle school, primarily in Spanish class where we were shown a film on her life. It wasn’t until she became an international pop star where her music was more commonly heard on local radio stations. “Dreaming of You“ was my jam! I would request that song, record it on tape, and listen to it repeatedly while crying about my crush.
The timing of this is serendipitous. During this COVID craziness, I was asked to participate in an online project called WOW (Women On Walls). This was a live YouTube class focused on the professionalization of young, female, Brazilian artists. At the time I was super hesitant and nervous about accepting this invitation as it would be the first time I’d be discussing my career and process entirely in Portuguese, my second language. I communicate with my relatives, and can communicate when needed, however, I’m not as confident holding in-depth conversations, particularly on the topic of my career. This conflict made me realize I was suffering a bit from imposter syndrome when it came to my cultural identity and how I represented it within my art. I felt like what I knew about my background was superficial and considered an untrue representation of Brazilian and El Salvadoran heritage. After speaking to a friend about this dilemma, she actually brought up Selena! She mentioned that she was a third generation Mexican-American who didn’t grow up speaking Spanish at home and needed to learn how to sing and speak in Spanish later in her life. She didn’t care if she mangled the language at first—she was determined to learn. I relate to her in the sense that as a female artist in a male-dominated profession, I aspire to give women from all communities and nationalities, the hope and courage to rise up in the face of adversity and pursue what they’re most passionate about.
Tatiana Suarez’s mural will be posted 11/30-12/13 at 2337 NW 5th Ave Miami, FL 33127.
Alejandra Ballesteros – Monterrey, Mexico
When I was invited to be part of this project, I was beyond excited. I’ve been such a big fan of Selena ever since I was a little kid and being able to illustrate her in celebration of Selena: The Series is just unbelievable.
I grew up listening to and singing her music, just as many other people. When I listened to her music, I really wanted to be like her. I even had a “phase” where I wanted to be a singer. Obviously, that didn’t work out and, instead, I focused on illustration. Seeing her achieve so many things in such a short amount of time left a mark on me and made me think that anything was possible, no matter your age.
Her songs have been with me through different times of my life. For a broken heart, I have “No me queda más”, and for a fun moment with my girlfriends, we have “El chico del apartamento 512”.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a party where people don’t dance and sing at the top of their lungs to each Selena song. Her music is full of joy and the lyrics connect with each one of us. She was so iconic and connected deeply with so many.
I admire Selena on many levels, but mainly for the dedication she put in each one of her projects. She not only inspires me with her songs and her music, she inspires me with her personality, and most importantly, the reflection of her passion in each of her projects.
Alejandra Ballesteros’s mural will be posted 11/30-12/13 at Av. Cristóbal Colón 2205. Pablo A. de La Garza 64580 Monterrey, N.L. Mexico
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