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Viewing the ever-growing collection of paintings on display in her family’s home near Toronto, you might never guess that the artist is only 8 years old. But from the nature-inspired motifs and resplendent colors, you can detect hints of tropical influences in her young life.

Photos: Stephanie Michel

In fact, Sophia Victoria Berger has extensive Costa Rican roots. Her parents were both born and raised in Escazú: Kyle Berger, an Air Canada pilot, and professional photographer Stephanie Michel. When Sophia was born in October 2013, they were living in Winnipeg, a Canadian prairie city known for its cold winters and hot summers. 

At only two months old, Sophia traveled with her mom and dad to Costa Rica for the first of many regular visits with family and friends.
“She has been exposed ever since to the bright and vibrant colors of Costa Rica,” Stephanie says. “She loves the beach; that’s her favorite place, and she enjoys swimming in the refreshing waters of the ocean.” 

Stephanie recalls her daughter’s passion for drawing was demonstrated at an early age. “She loved to draw and paint, preferring to be alone rather than playing with her brother, Lucas.”

At age 4, Sophia created her first watercolor painting in kindergarten class. Both parents recognized a talent and wanted her to explore her creativity further. So they enrolled Sophia in painting lessons, which she still attends every week. Otherwise, she spends countless hours painting in her own art corner at home. 

Meanwhile, it was through her art classes that Sophia also discovered a passion for working with clay, Stephanie notes. “She has made many animal figures out of clay, mostly enjoying the process of working with her hands, getting dirty and then baking her sculpture.” 

There’s no question Sophia’s inspiration comes from visiting different places, especially Costa Rica, her mom affirms. “She loves painting landscapes and animals with vivid colors that reflect what she remembers when visiting a place.” 

Her favorite artist, Frida Kahlo, inspires Sophia’s parallel enjoyment of creating portraits — self-portraits and the faces of others. She dreams of visiting Mexico City, where Frida lived, and learning more about the legendary artist. 

With no need to finalize her career plans any time soon, Sophia dreams of becoming an architect or a fashion designer, while continuing her painting. For now, her family encourages her to explore her creativity in any way she enjoys.

“We are so proud of her for doing something that she loves, and with such passion and grace,” Stephanie says.

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