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September 02, 2021

Meet the Artist: Sophia Othman

Robert Briseno

Sophia Othman

Peacock Feather Benches

Sophia Othman Source: Robert Briseno BB&B Business Group

Sophia Othman did not take a conventional route to become an artist. Art and creativity were not encouraged by her family in her youth, unlike many artists who discover their love of art early on in their formative years that then develop and mature through practice and training. Sophia took a different route to artistic expression. She began her life in Tennessee but hopped around from foreign cities like Bagdad, Iraq and Cardiff, Whales with her family until she was 16. She went on to get a degree in geology and finally found herself in a career in medicine as a registered nurse.

Still, something was missing within Sophia’s spirit. She walked away from a successful career in nursing in 2010 to embrace her creative side that had been suppressed all those years. All it took was the first step, she quickly moved from the Oakland area to Vallejo in search of affordable studio space to create both her artwork and to also seek out like-minded individuals with whom she could collaborate.

Sophia found herself back at school, literally, but not to train as an artist. She found herself in the classroom helping children in the Vallejo School District find their artistic voice. It was a collaboration with another artist that changed her life, together they worked on a large mosaic mural during a spring break at Hogan High School (now Hogan Middle School). From there more school-related children’s art collaborations blossomed. You will not find her work hung on one’s wall or refrigerator, but rather an artwork that takes up the whole wall itself. “Large” and “outdoors” became Sophia’s niche and a continued theme that has been prevalent in almost all her artwork.

Sophia’s passion is creating art that becomes part of the space and that people can immerse themselves into it as they experience the piece. It is important to her that her art brings not only beauty but a calming and peaceful experience to the viewers. She hopes her art helps to relax a person and helps to reduce their daily anxieties. In a way, her background in science and medicine is on display as she continues that theme of healing a person’s body and soul into her artwork.

The opportunity with SolTrans allowed Sophia to do what she does best.  Sophia is responsible for the Peacock Benches at the Vallejo Transit Center.  The benches are surrounded by beautiful crepe myrtle trees within the decorative peacock feather tree grates. Sophia thought that benches under those trees, in the shade, with a peacock theme would be a perfect fit.

The benches were crafted out of cement and inlaid with tile. The pink tile was specifically picked to echo the pink flowers of the crepe myrtle trees overhead that shade the area from the sun. She chose the blue tiles to offer up a calming color to add to the ambiance, for what she felt should be a restful place. The shape of the benches themselves along with the tile inlay is designed to create what is known as a Mandala. Mandala is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates to “circle” or “center” and is a type of religious and spiritual art with a deep significance for many people. The meaning of the bench’s shape is to provide the viewer a calming sense and offer them the opportunity to reflect and meditate. The area itself already had that feeling and Sophia wanted to amplify her design and offer visitors a place to sit and rest amongst the shaded trees. Her hope is that people can sit, rest, enjoy and slip away while embracing the hustle and bustle of the transit center.

To experience more of Sophia’s work, you can visit her website at or her studio at 725 Marin St. in Vallejo.

Source: Robert Briseno BB&B Business Group
Source: Robert Briseno BB&B Business Group
Source: Robert Briseno BB&B Business Group
Source: Robert Briseno BB&B Business Group
Source: Robert Briseno BB&B Business Group

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