By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jul 16, 2007 at 5:10 AM

Family plays a plum role in the life and inspiration of artist Jennifer "Kya" Espenscheid. Born in Spearfish, S.D., and raised on a ranch in Western Wisconsin, Espenscheid credits a chunk of her creativity to her nature-filled living environments -- and her supportive parents.

"My parents always gave me the freedom and tools to express myself artistically," she says. "Like a bird, they kept tossing me in the air until I could fly."

Today, Espenscheid has a young daughter of her own, who quickly became her biggest muse. "My latest inspirations are flowing from the creation of my little girl, Veda," she says.

Espenscheid's abstract paintings -- which range in size and medium -- will hang inside Yaffa Lounge and Restaurant, 106 W. Wells St, from July 20 to Sept. 20. Yaffa will host an opening party for the show, called "Unveiled," Wed., July 25, from 5 to 8 p.m. The event includes wine, appetizers and valet parking.

Although currently a full-time professional artist specializing in murals and paintings, Espenscheid -- who has an architecture degree from UW-Milwaukee -- does architectural renderings, custom fine art and restaurant and commercial interiors, including a pan-Asian themed lounge/restaurant in Southeast Asia that she worked on this past winter.

Much of Espencheid's work is vibrant and cosmic "reminiscent of sub-cellular structures or galactic scale concepts that can be beheld as a focus of meditation or set an ambience for the space in which it's displayed."

After earning her architecture degree from UWM, Espenscheid traveled the world for five years, exploring every continent except South America (for no particular reason.) During this time she studied language, religion and art.

"I never studied art in school ... the world is my teacher," she says.

Earlier this month, Espenscheid married longtime boyfriend, Dalas, who gave her the name "Kya" because he was listening to the Bob Marley song of the same name -- but different spelling -- when he met her. He is also the father of Veda, the never-ending source of inspiration.

"I have created art inspired by others wishes, my travels of this earth, human emotions, earthly movements and they all remind me, yet do not compare, to the passion I feel when creating with the energy Veda gives me. I have never known such strength or joy," says Espenscheid.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.