(WSVN) - A South Florida artist sees the true beauty of a devastated country, and she is making it her mission to share it with others. Heather Walker tells her story in our 7 Spotlight.

Art is everywhere in South Florida, but some of it has a deeper meaning.

When she’s not working, or taking care of her family, you’ll find Sophia at home painting.

Her art tells a personal story.

Sophia Lacroix: “Haiti has enough sadness being shared all over the place in the media and otherwise. So, for me, I focus on the positive, because that’s the way I always coped growing up in Haiti.”

Sophia immigrated from Haiti to South Florida as a teenager.

While she never had any formal art training, she had plenty of natural talent.

Sophia Lacroix: “First year after college, I got my heart broken and threw all that energy into painting. And I realized that I had something: I had a style, and I had a voice.”

She uses that voice to remember life in Haiti, before it was devastated by natural disasters and economic and political crises

Sophia Lacroix: “I have not gone to Haiti in 40 years, and that makes me sad because it’s a beautiful place, but I’m a mom. What if something happens?”

Many of Sophia’s oil paintings are detailed, bright recreations of the local markets in her hometown and the people she would meet.

Sophia Lacroix: “Oh, my God, the straw baskets, the fresh fruits and vegetables. You see beauty. These ladies, for example. Yes, they are in the marketplace in Haiti. They don’t have much. They’re gossiping and relaxing. You can see the friendship.”

One of Sophia’s largest pieces is hanging outside of the Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami, but you can also spot her work along one of South Florida’s busiest roads.

Sophia Lacroix: “I’m one of five artists for the City of North Miami’s ‘You Wrap Nomi.'”

A utility box on Biscayne Boulevard and 123rd Street is wrapped with Sophia’s work. Two others are a few minutes away on 125th and 135th streets.

It’s part of the city’s campaign to bring art to the public.

Sophia Lacroix: “You’ll see a utility box with a little girl with a purple dress, and then there’s another one of a Haitian tap-tap, which is a colorful taxi pickup truck, and there’s another one.”

Sophia is now working on a new way to share her love of Haiti by combining art and food.

Sophia Lacroix: “This is a piece — the onions, the Scotch bonnets, the green peppers, the parsley.”

She was awarded a grant by the Broward County Cultural Division to create a series of paintings based on traditional Haitian recipes. The series will go on display at the Hollywood branch library on May 18, which is also Haitian Flag Day.

Sophia Lacroix: “That’s a wonderful feeling. Oh, it’s so much fun.”

And it’s a new way for her to shine a light on Haitian culture in South Florida.

Heather Walker, 7News.

If you know of a person, place or group that you think we should highlight, email us at 7spotlight@wsvn.com.

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