Someone who buys Alejandra Estefanía’s art traveled to Cuba and, upon return to the United States, brought her a photo as a gift. The snapshot of a Cuban boy holding a flower inspired in Alejandra one of the paintings she’s proudest of.
The painting sparked endless comments on Instagram about who the child was and who the flower was for, a story that Alejandra hopes to discover one day.
“The purpose of my art is to inspire people, that they feel powerful when they view it, no matter where they are,” said Alejandra, a 29-year-old artist based in Miami.
Born in Ecuador, she grew up in North Carolina since she was four years old. Although she had never studied art before, at the age of 19 she had the feeling that her purpose was to express herself through painting, something her immigrant mother did not welcome. At 21 she decided to go to Miami, with $100 in her pocket and a huge desire to attend the art institute there.
“I had to work very hard to achieve it, but doors opened because I was ready and focused on my true vocation,” says Alejandra. “When I came to Miami I felt that I could be in my culture, be myself, live my Latino identity,” she added.
“Cuban culture is very strong in Miami and the Cubans welcomed me as a sister, there was no line to divide us, I felt like family.” But for a long time, Alejandra has had a spiritual and professional need to visit Cuba. She says that it would help her to be inspired even more for her future works. That’s why she decided to participate along with her fiancé, the artist Mojo, in an exclusive trip to Havana next November, organized by OnCuba Travel.
Only eight people will have the opportunity to share with them the adventure of discovering the colors and flavors of Havana, in private meetings with top artists on the island, visits to the main art museums, and other activities including seaside yoga sessions and Cuban food tastings.
“For those who decide to join this experience, I’m sure it will be unforgettable and, being a small group, we’ll have the unique opportunity to connect with artists on the island and among ourselves,” said Alejandra.
For her, the trip also means the possibility of understanding and learning more about Miami’s own Cuban culture, a way of creating ties with the environment that inspires her. Her art is well received by the Cuban community in South Florida, which chose her design for the Miami Carnival poster in 2019.
Now, after establishing herself as a successful artist, she likes to see herself as a “teacher of good things,” so she combines her artistic work with motivational talks and volunteer work at different community centers.
In one of those centers she had an encounter that inspired her to finish a painting she had been working on for a long time. It was with another black boy (like the Cuban child in the photo) who she met in a shelter “miraculously,” and could not get out of her imagination.
“The child was identical to the one I was painting and couldn’t finish. I knew it right away and it was magical.” Their conversation had an impact on Alejandra, who finally finished the piece. The painting, one of her most famous, is entitled “Where the Flowers Bloom.”
“People not only buy my art, but the story behind the piece, and that’s why I like to connect with my buyers, with those who consume my art.”
On her Instagram page, Alejandra shares some of those stories with her more than 23,000 followers, through which she hopes she will “change as many lives as she can.”
In Cuba, Alejandra will not only visit visual artists, but also hopes to find the unknown child in the photo to give him a copy of her painting and learn more about his story. “I’m very excited to know more about the origins of Cuban culture, the history of Cuba, and to meet so many talented artists,” said Alejandra.
“And I’m excited to meet the boy in my painting and perhaps find out who the flower was for, which he held so tenderly and strongly in his hands.”