McNay Art Museum showcases Selena in photography exhibit

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA  News)- A new photography exhibit showcasing the late Tejano music legend Selena opens today at the McNay Art Museum.

San Antonio photographer John Dyer recalls how the young Tejano singer drove a red hatchback full of rhinestone bustiers, tights, hats and boots to his studio for a photo shoot for Más Magazine.

“The first time I photographed her, she was full of life and bubbly and full of promise and energetic,” said John Dyer. “The day just flew by even though we worked for about ten hours, which is unheard of for someone who’s well known.”

Selena photograph by John Dyer at McNay Art Museum/KTSA photo by Elizabeth Ruiz

Three years later, the Grammy Award winner, who was performing for sold-out crowds, was exhausted when she showed up for a photo shoot at the Majestic Theatre for Texas Monthly.  She was working on a song in English titled “Dreaming of You,” which music industry insiders predicted would be her crossover hit.

“She had just spent two days shooting Coca-Cola commercials and she was completely worn out,” Dyer said.

This time, she wore an embroidered Mexican textile jacket which he brought to the photo shoot. He could tell she was exhausted, so he used a different approach. She didn’t dance around with numerous wardrobe changes.  Instead, she sat in the lobby of the Majestic with a more serious look.

Selena photograph by John Dyer at McNay Art Museum/KTSA Photo-Elizabeth Ruiz, Jan. 14, 2020


A few months later on March 31, 1995, Selena was gunned down by the president of her fan club in her hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas.  Dyer, like thousands of Selena fans, was heartbroken.

“I lost something that day,” Dyer said.

Magazines from across the country contacted Dyer and asked to use his photos of Selena. One of the photos taken at the Majestic Theatre ended up on the cover of People Magazine. It’s one of five on display at the McNay.

Selena photo by John Dyer at McNay Art Museum/Photo on cover of People Magazine after she was killed/KTSA Photo-Elizabeth Ruiz/Jan. 14, 2020


The “Selena Forever/Siempre Selena” exhibit opens today and will remain open through July 15.  It’s part of a larger exhibit showcasing 1990’s fashions titled “Fashion Nirvana: Runway to Everyday,” which opens January 30th.

Selena photographer John Dyer/KTSA Photo by Elizabeth Ruiz/Jan. 14, 2020

“In addition to being a music icon, Selena was also a fashion icon and she had two stores in her native South Texas featuring her designs. One was in Corpus Christi and the other was on Broadway, just minutes away from the McNay,” said Richard Aste, Director of the McNay Art Museum.

Aste says Selena shattered the glass ceiling for women in Tejano music and for Latinos.

“She shattered the glass ceiling for me, being an immigrant from Latin America, realizing that I, too, could make that crossover and be one with the larger American culture ,” said Aste.


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