Roxana “Roxy” Sora has enjoyed a busy April. Having exhibited her art pieces at ArtExpo in NYC, the artist is now planning on making more Art as 2019 continues and is heading to the Hamptons on 4th of July weekend to exhibit her work there. Roxy was able to realize her passion for that arts after her children grew up and found their way in the world. She now has more time to continue creating her unique art pieces.

Roxy was born in Cuba but came to America at age eight with only her seven-year-old sister as a company. The two lived in an orphanage for over a year until they were reunited with their parents. This experience resulted in Roxy diving into art as an escape mechanism.

Roxy grew up, started a family, and attained the title of President in the insurance industry. Roxy uses her life as inspiration for her paintings...and her new fashion line which she officially launched as the “Roxana Zubía Collection.”

Roxy´s art has been displayed in commercial buildings in Florida at The Benitez Gallery, the Coral Gables Museum of Art, Art Basel Week at Spectrum, the DaVinci Gallery, Artblend Gallery and elsewhere. Roxy recently discussed her art, fashion, and future via an exclusive interview.

Colors, style, and art

Meagan Meehan (MM): Your style is very colorful, so how did you manage to create a “look” that is entirely your own?

Roxana Sora (RS): The liquid paints I use are poured so having the paints ready and blending them in one sitting to make sure I get the effect I want is important. When I started working with this medium, I just poured the colors and let them run into each other to see what the effect would be.

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With time, I was able to get it to do what I wanted. I would have a picture in mind and was able to recreate it in an abstract form. If you go to my website, you can see that I have done waves, volcanos, sunsets, and other pieces. I also paint with music, jazz, classical, Latin; it depends on the mood. People tell me they can see and feel the movement of the music in my work. The above pictures are titled FIRE, NOCHE (NIGHT), EVENING’S DELIGHT.

MM: You came to America at age eight with your little sister. You were without the company of an adult, so what was that journey like?

RS: The Cuban government separated my sister and I the day before leaving Cuba. I came over by myself. There have been several books written about the “Pedro Pan” children which translates to “Peter Pan.” We all had different experiences, but one that still stands out in my mind was my mother telling me before we were separated that I could not cry or else they would not let me go, and it was important for me to go.

She also told me that once I was reunited with my sister, I needed to take care of her. To this day, my sister calls me her second mother. I was then led to a glass room to wait to board the plane. I could see my parents on the other side, and they could see me, but I could not CRY. I remember boarding the plane with a doll and a purse in my hand. I was only in Miami for a week before I was sent to an orphanage in Davenport, Iowa.

Coming from a beautiful island and arriving in the dead of winter was a shock. There were no leaves on the trees; the sky was grey; it was cold and snow on the ground. To think about it, it was a leaving the warmth-loving world of my parents and sister, to the dark, cold loneliness of nowhere!

MM: What was life in an orphanage like and how much of an impact did your time there have on your embracement of artwork?

RS: The nuns were strict and tough. I came from an upper-middle-class lifestyle. My sister and I had nannies to take care of us. In the orphanage, I had to learn to wash clothes, iron and clean bathrooms. I still have a scar from the hot iron the first time ironed. When I was reunited with my sister, since she was only seven, I had to do her chores as well. I became very independent and withdrawn. Since I did not speak English, I started to communicate through my drawings, which my mom kept and brought one of them from Cuban. I was happiest when I was drawing.

MM: What was it like to be reunited with your parents and were there any major “culture shocks” regarding your new life in America?

RS: My sister and I were one of the fortunate kids. We were reunited with our parents within the year. The day we arrive in Miami from Iowa someone forgot to tell our parents we were arriving so they were not there to pick us up. We were once again picked up by the person who picked us up the first time when I arrived in Miami and taken to the camp in Florida City where all of the children were taken. I wanted to run away, but because of my sister, I didn’t. It’s interesting how a mother’s intuition kicks in. My mom kept telling my dad that she knew we were in Miami. She insisted that a family member call the organization taking care of the kids to see if we were here and they confirmed that we were. It took my parents three days to get to us. In 1962, there were not many jobs, so my dad went to New York to find a job; we followed a week later.

I would say that it was not so much the culture shock but the fact that our childhood was taken away from us. Not in a terrible way just the fact that we had to grow up faster. My father spoke English from Cuban but my mom did not. We became their translators and help them assimilate the language. My dad found two full time jobs in NY. We hardly saw him. My mom worked in a factory and would leave very early in the morning and got home late. My sister and I would spend most of our time alone. There were several Cuban families that lived in the same building and they would take turn taking care of each others children since some of the parents worked the night shifts. It was difficult but I believe the experience was worth it to be able to have the freedom we all wanted.

MM: Did you continue dabbling in art throughout your teenage years and how did you style evolve?

RS: Yes, I continued through grammar school and high school. I tried many mediums, acrylic, watercolors, oils, pastels, India ink, portraits, landscapes, seascapes, etc. In school, I would volunteer for every art project.

MM: You spent years in the insurance industry and even attained the title of “President.” So, what made you chose that field and did any of those connections help you establish your art in corporate offices?

RS: I wanted to be an artist but always heard you had to starve to be an artist or die in order to become famous; that you would not make money as an artist so I knew I had to find a job. All I wanted was a foot in the door the rest was up to me. When I finished school, I decided that my parents had been in the cold too long so I brought them to Miami. My first job interview for a secretarial job was at an insurance agency. So, you can say I fell into my insurance career. Today, this is the same company I started to work for 45 years ago. After a few years as a secretary, I became an insurance agent, then sales manager, COO and currently President of one of their Divisions. In the background, I still continued with my art. The company I work for bought several of the art pieces that is in one of their main conference rooms. They are always encouraging my work and the fashion line I created. You can go to “Roxana Zubia” and see my fashion line website. My clients have requested installations at their offices and some have bought pieces for their condominium projects. I believe relationships are what drives the business world and the art world.

Artblend, ArtExpo, and NYC

MM: When you retire, are you planning on becoming a full-time Artist and how did you find opportunities to exhibit your work?

RS: Yes, I will be a full time Artist and Designer. For the last seven years, I have been exhibiting in Art exhibitions, museums and galleries. I have also been involved with many non-profits donating my art pieces and fashion line pieces their silent auctions. This gives me an opportunity to have my work seen by as many people as possible while helping an important cause.

MM: How did you meet Artblend and what do you like most about working with them?

RS: I met Michael, the owner of Artblend, early last year and wanted him to curate my work in order to participate in the Spectrum Art Show during Art Basel week which I exhibited for the first time in December 2018. We then spoke about ArtExpo in NY and now are talking about the Hamptons Art Festival in July. What I like about Artblend, and confirmed by others, is that they are professional, fair, and respected within the industry, winning many awards for their gallery, artist they represent and contribution to many Art Exhibitions around the country.

MM: What was it like to be at ArtExpo in NYC and what’s happening next for you?

RS: It was an amazing experience. I love people watching and this was one of the best places to do that. There were so many talented artists and beautiful art pieces. I am sure it was not easy for the buyers. We sold several pieces and received many compliments! In the future, the Hamptons, several art festivals, galleries and definitely Spectrum in December of 2019.

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