Saaba was born in St. Louis, Missouri to an Ethiopian mother and an American father. She spent her childhood gleaning lessons in balance and composition from her father’s mathematically inspired geometric sculptures; and in color, vision, and intuition from her mother’s entrepreneurial adventures in food product development.
Saaba’s academic pursuits took her from St. Louis to New York City where she worked as an artists’ assistant; to Tasmania, Australia, where she studied painting; to Kenyon College in Ohio where she completed her BA in studio art, graduating with honors in 1996. For the next four years, while maintaining her own painting career, Saaba co-created three community-based public art projects in St. Louis, earning wide recognition for her work.
In her young career, Saaba has received multiple awards, exhibited works in numerous national and international fine art exhibitions, and sold the majority of her works. She is a recipient of the Margaret E. Leslie Prize in drawing and a graduate of the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission’s Community Arts Training program.
After nearly a decade in the SF Bay Area, Saaba has returned to her hometown where she now teaches portrait painting at Craft Alliance and runs collaborative art workshops in private settings, schools, and institutions like St. Louis Children's Hospital and the Contemporary Art Museum.