Artist’s Story

kyah looking into the camera and smiling

Kyah Probst, 24, is an Autistic author, multi-disciplinary artist, and Creative Content Executive based in Fort Collins, Colorado. Just two years into Kyah’s life, she discovered pattern-creation and swirl-making as a powerful tool for sensory self-soothing and visual exploration. Kyah concludes that her specific art-making process is a form of Autistic stimming, which has since become a motif in Kyah’s life as she navigates the intersection between disability, personal identity, and creativity as a vessel for catharsis.

A Brief History of Swirl-Making:

For as long as Kyah can remember, her body’s physical movements have been like a paintbrush; arms, legs, fingers, and other body parts create imaginary, flowing lines in space that connect her to the world. When she’s stimming—a common symptom of Autism—the lines that connect her movements are kind of like a meditation, a visual study, and a nervous system regulator all in one. A common Autism trope is that “stimming” can only look a certain way; flapping the hands, or rocking back and forth. The truth is that it can be so much more than that.

In Kyah’s case, it certainly is. In an article by David Perry called, The Art of Stimming, he says:

“To the casual observer, [my son’s] stimming seems to consist of simple up-and-down motion. But slowed down, one can observe the elegant intricacies of his pattern-making. He subtly flicks his wrist or shifts his grip, encouraging the beads into helices of motion and fractal whirls, then releases them back to gravity’s lure so they descend to hang at 90 degrees to the floor.

Julia Bascom, executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, tells me over email that ‘Stimming is a way that we can help ourselves feel calm, soothed, or focused, but it can also be a huge source of joy and beauty.'”

Around age two, Kyah began drawing intricate patterns with simple paper and crayon. She had a couple favorite patterns 1) spirals and swirls that branch off of one another and grow across the page 2) tiny dots connected by lines in groups, divided by negative space. In this sense, Kyah believes that art-making has always been a form of stimming, but instead of her body’s movements giving way to imaginary, flowing lines, it’s giving way to real, perceivable ones.

Kyah’s swirl-making days, age 2+, can be seen influencing all of her current work.

Connecting Stimming to an Artistic, Autistic Philosophy:

One of Kyah’s favorite things about being Autistic is being able to leverage a unique cognitive approach to observing patterns. In her childhood, Kyah didn’t always use toys like cars, dolls, or stuffed animals in a traditional sense. Instead, she enjoyed organizing her toys and other materials by size, color, shape, personal interest, texture, and more. As an artist, this focus on pattern-making and stimming codified a style of unfettered art-making from a young age, and has provided a foundation for integrating values and asking questions in her artistic process.

“There’s really no ‘one way’ to describe my artistic process, but most of my work is a medley of mediums like watercolor, acrylic, ink, oil pastel, and digital tools or software. I’m smitten by the idea of using my approaches as a vessel to explore the nature of transformation — especially with the secondary goal of finding innovative ways to combine technology and traditional art mediums. The result is always unexpected, and two pieces are never the same.”

Kyah Probst


In 2018, Kyah was named an Emerging Young Artist through VSA and The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C where her print “Child Rearing” went on a year-long, nationally touring exhibit.

Additionally, Kyah’s artwork has been featured in the Department of Education (2016) for the “Yo Soy…Je suis…I am” international exhibit, the 2020 Synergy Exhibit in Milwaukee, and the “Best American Artist” Virtual Exhibition by London-based Gallery, The Holy Art. Pieces from Kyah’s most successful collection of artwork—the “Pareidolia Collection”—can be found HERE.

Current Projects:

Kyah’s most recent project is a hand-illustrated adult coloring book called “Body Space: The Mind and Body Adult Coloring Book.” (Awarded by the Wisconsin Big Ideas Tournament and The Lubar Entrepreneurship Center’s People’s Choice Category, 2021)

Body Space: The Mind and Body Adult Coloring Book

Created during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Body Space: The mind and Body Adult Coloring Book is a coloring-based mindfulness tool. The goal is to dissolve the three most common barriers faced by meditation beginners—in other words, the kind of challenges that cause over 50% of people to give up after their first try. Instead of gamifying meditation to make it more enticing, like some other tools, Body Space art-ifies it by allowing users to color in and visualize their inner world on paper.

The project gets to the roots of Kyah’s ideas about the interplay between art-making and self-reflection, but this time invites others to utilize her work to perpetuate transformation in their own lives. You can read more about the Body Space technique, view the Body Space trailer, and read more about Kyah’s customer discovery and Canvas Business Model HERE.

The Pareidolia Collection

Starting in 2015, Kyah wanted to “show, not tell” how each individual can visually interpret the same piece of art differently. She used a concept called “Pareidolia,” or the phenomenon of perceiving a pattern where none exists, to create a series of abstract artwork. She aimed to achieve two goals:

💫 To solicit reflection on the nature of visual art from her audience.

💫 To explore how combining technology and traditional art mediums can still produce highly inconspicuous, organic work. 

In the scope of her collection, Kyah used several mixed-media paintings (watercolor, acrylic, ink, oil pastel), to create one work of art. First, she scanned multiple paintings into a computer and layered them on top of each other in Adobe Creative Suite. After making each layer semi-transparent and surgically adding features from a variety of work, the final designs became meld into rich, intricate, digitally altered works of art that forced viewers to confront and reflect on their own mind’s eye.

Viewers of pieces from The Pareidolia Collection have identified a huge variety of shapes, objects, and patterns (where none exist). Among Kyah’s favorites are:

– A smoking gun
– A group of children holding hands and dancing
– A sailboat, riding through a storm

Professional DSLR Photography

Outside of her mixed-media art ventures, Kyah has been shooting dSLR photography since age ten. Kyah has photographed catalogues for Kokoro—a Roman boutique in Trastevere, Italy—events such as UW-Milkwaukee’s 2019 TEDx conference, the menu for Sweetie Cup Thai Cafe in St. Louis, and countless seniors and families. Examples of her hobbyist work can be found under the “photography” tab.

RemAIn Human: Coming Soon…

Kyah’s current project, “RemAIn Human,” hasn’t been released to the public yet, but stays true to the themes of combining technology, traditional mediums, process, transformation, and inquiry. Except this time, Kyah is focusing on AI imagery and its software as a tool.

The goal of “RemAIn Human” is twofold:

💫 To create a visible juxtaposition between AI depictions of “the human experience” and the prompt engineering used to create those depictions.

💫 To explore how traditional art mediums and emerging AI technology can work in tandem, rather than being diametrically opposed.

What Kyah really means to ask is “Can AI Imagery be considered an art form by itself?” and “What level of human involvement is required in an artistic process for something to be considered ‘artistic’ rather than simply ‘creative’?” 

Each piece in the series aims to create a juxtaposition between the emotional imagery and the impassive prompts written to create that image. The question of “Is AI imagery an art form?” might not be up to Kyah to decide, but she hopes to use her perspective as a process artist to start a meaningful dialogue.

View the sneak peek video below:

Speaking and Engagement:

Kyah Probst, Emerging Young Artists Program Reception. The John F. Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. 2018.

Kyah Probst, speaking with Yousef Al Otaiba (يوسف العتيبة) Current UAE Ambassador to the United States and Minister Of State. Global Ties U.S. Youth Ambassador Program Reception. Washington D.C. 2021.

Kyah Probst, Campus Correspondent Program National Training. Poynter Institute for Media Studies, St. Petersburg, FL, 2020.

Kyah Probst, workshop leader for Media Literacy Week 2020 with NAMLE and PENAmerica Live.

Kyah Probst, Panel Presenter for NAMLE’s “Making Space: How Art & Media Literacy can Reshape Notions of Disability & Representation.”

Kyah Probst, moderator for Think Student Live’s student panel, Exploring the Impact of AI on Higher Education, 2023.

Professional Life:

Kyah is currently a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she received her B.S. in Community Education and Engagement. She is extremely passionate about higher education, non-profit management, nontraditional education, cooperative living and business development, community organizing, art education integration, voter advocacy, media literacy, digital change-making, and community service. She was most recently a Youth Ambassador to the USA Pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai, where she met with dignitaries and world leaders, led a variety of cultural projects, and engaged in people-to-people diplomacy with thousands of visitors to the USA Pavilion each day. Kyah’s ultimate dream is to continue upholding a career with a vested interest in building bridges, rather than climbing ladders. You can view Kyah’s LinkedIn to read her Resume, working updates, and featured articles.

Business inquiries:

Kyah in the Media

Articles either written by or featuring Kyah Probst.