SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio is mourning the loss of local fashion artist Rebecca Medina whose life-sized dolls captured the attention of many in some of the city’s biggest celebrations.
Medina passed away Sunday morning, according to her daughter, Bethany DeLeón.
Some of Medina’s most iconic works included her larger-than-life dolls inspired by Frida Kahlo. For years, her work was featured in festivals and parades throughout San Antonio, including the Battle of Flowers Parade.
Medina was also a hairstylist based in the King William District. On Monday, DeLeon, her younger brother and two of their mother’s closest friends sat inside the empty hair salon and shared stories about Medina.
Her salon chair is empty and tools untouched, yet her essence is all around. The Catrina-inspired hats, skeleton dolls and awards speak to the talent of the San Antonio artist.
Medina’s friend of 35 years, Richard Sánchez, proudly shows off the artwork that fills the salon.
“I would describe her as a person with a big heart, an aura that just shined so brightly,” Sánchez said. “(She) loved people, loved San Antonio and loved the arts. It was in her blood. It was in her heart.”
DeLeón was her mother’s right hand. She spent hours helping Medina create art pieces for numerous events in San Antonio.
“Working side by side with her, I will never forget those moments,” DeLeón said. “That talent, that energy, that drive to make beautiful things -- and not just artwork, but giving love to people and to make people happy.”
Medina’s work was bold and unique.
“My mom definitely had a style. You could (spot a piece and) say Rebecca Madina made that,” DeLeón said.
Medina always strived to pay tribute to her Hispanic heritage and honor female artists like Frida Kahlo and Selena Quintanilla.
“The translation from her mind to her hands to actually creating something tangible that people can see is amazing,” DeLeón said.
Sánchez said Medina always made a grand entrance in hopes of inspiring younger artists. One of her most recent projects was featured at the San Antonio AIDS Foundation’s Webb Party.
“She was so excited that we got invited,” Sánchez said. “(The theme) was celestial dreams and Zodiac signs. All of us (dressed) one model. Rebecca (dressed) ten from head to toe.”
Medina’s focus, Sánchez said, was to share with others.
“Her dream was to open a school for the Hispanic community in San Antonio, an art school,” Sánchez said.
Now, it is Medina’s children to honor her work for generations to come.
“I really hope that my mom’s art will be displayed for everybody to see. Everybody needs to see this,” DeLeón said. “The work that she’s done not only (has) changed lives, but I think it in the future can empower young artists to say, ‘You know what, I can do this.’”
The family has plans to host a public memorial for Medina in weeks to come.
Funeral arrangements for Medina have not been finalized.
The public will have another chance to view and take pictures of her life-size dolls during this weekend’s official Pride Parade, which will begin at Dewey & Main Street and run down to Lexington.