Fredericksburg teen with Down syndrome whose art is inspiring thousands, speaks at Germanna

From Germanna Community College
Sophia Pineda (left) speaks at the Germanna Community College Arts & Activism Event hosted by GCC Student Activities on Wednesday.  Her mother, Carol Pineda, i
Sofia Pineda (left) speaks at the Germanna Community College Arts & Activism Event hosted by GCC Student Activities on Wednesday. Her mother, Carol Kando-Pineda, is at right.

Sofia Pineda, an 18-year-old senior from James Monroe High School in Fredericksburg with Down syndrome, was the star of an “Arts and Activism” event hosted by Germanna Community College’s Department of Student Activities on Wednesday and part of a voter registration campaign was at college.

According to her website Synergies Work, she was diagnosed at birth with very serious heart defects, any of which could have been fatal – “literally born with half a heart” and endured two open-heart surgeries before she was 2 years old was.

Sofia Pineda with her art. –The freelance star

According to the website, Sofia has been studying ballet for almost eight years and has danced in several local productions. In 2013 she was selected to walk the runway as a model for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation Gala in Washington, and in 2016 the National Down Syndrome Society chose her image as one of many people with Down Syndrome to appear in their video Kick-off for the National Buddy Walk in New York City. She has explored painting, drawing, and pottery through camps and classes at the Libertytown Arts Workshop.

“I love art,” she told the audience at the Germanna event on Wednesday. “I love to dance, draw with markers, charcoal, watercolor pencils and colored pencils. i love to paint I learned how to paint with watercolors from my amazing teacher HsiMei Yates. Watercolors can be very soft or very bright – they are beautiful. I paint birds, butterflies, pumpkins, horses, mermaids, polar bears, penguins, sunflowers and many, many other flowers. I like to paint beautiful sunsets in the background – orange, pink, red, gray and blue – like the blue on my fingernails.”

"Happy unions" mural
Sofia Pineda collaborated with Gabriel Pons and others on this collaborative mural, painted in Germanna in Spring 2022. It was a collaboration between Gabriel Pons from PONSHOP and Sophia. titled Happy Unions. The 30-foot mural adorns the student lounge at the Fredericksburg Area campus in Spotsylvania.} It was inspired by the potential of a college campus – a place that fosters connections between people: academic, professional, personal and social,” Pons said. “The artwork recognizes the diversity, inclusion and optimism embodied in our community” – Photo by Suzanne Rossi

. Gabriel Pons is a great muralist and another great teacher,” she said. “Art helps me tell the world what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling. Painting makes me happy.

“In the Artists 4 ERA show you can see my painting of a heart. I thought about the heart surgeries I had when I was a baby. The white squiggly lines represent the scars on my chest.”

Rainbow Heart by Sofia Pineda
Artwork by Sofia Pineda inspired by her heart surgeries.

She shared with the audience the words of artist Edgar Degas: “Art is not what you see, it is what you make others see.”

Her mother, Carol Kando-Pineda, said: “First, we create for so many reasons. Sometimes we create just to create something beautiful or challenging, to express deep emotion or to grab the viewer’s attention. We create to make people feel or think about something. No matter why you create something, art is SO important – for the artists, for their communities, for the whole world. Keep creating, keep contributing to the world. Use your voice. Use your art to make people feel, think and act.”

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