Trace Datsi

Tracey Datsi Pennell was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1972 to a working class family of  Appalachian decent. His great grandfather was a farmer and a strict Evangelical preacher who lived in the "back hollars" of Kentucky. His grandmother Olga married a coal miner, had three children, and lived in a "coal camp" where the work was physically hard, dangerous, and low pay. In the 1940's, Olga joined the migration of country people in search of work in the factories to the North. Trace's mother and father were both talented in art and working with their hands but did not pursue the arts. Such things were thought to be only for the rich and well connected. Instead, they worked in the factories and trades that required mechanical ability and an extreme attention to detail.

Tracey Datsi Pennell began doing art as a form of catharsis to express feelings that he could not express in words. There were many years of deep depression, anxiety, flashback, and silence. The experiences of trauma had a lasting effect. And as well, there was no word for being transgender at the time.


Trace graduated from The Art Academy of Cincinnati in 2001, and is greatly inspired by Classical Art and the Old Masters. His mentor was Stewart Goldman, a painter whose work influenced him with dynamic brushstrokes, sensitive color and spacial relationships, and the figurative form. The Abstract Expressionists had quite an impact on his education, with an emphasis on the formal elements of composition, gesture, and color theory.

During this time at The Art Academy, Trace stumbled upon a process of making art based on a kind of "Rorschach Method of Creation". The first of which was called "Subjective Mirror". During this process the canvas is seen as a window into the subconscious. As the mind contemplates the ambiguity of random mark on the surface, a shift in perception is experienced as significant points of contrast in the composition change in spacial relationship to surrounding areas. The Surrealist painter Salvidor Dali produced these types of images.  And it is this experience of the creative process that fuels Trace's awe and curiosity in the details of human perception, anatomy and psychology. If you are interested in commissioning a work of art, you may contact him...Here.




1998- 2001 Art Academy of Cincinnati, BFA


Figurative Drawing, Sculpture, and Painting,

Realistic Graphite Portraits,

Abstract, Surrealist, and Expressionist Oil Painting,

Matting and Framing of Artwork,

Storyboard, Character Development, Graphic Design,

Adobe Creative Cloud - Photoshop and Illustrator,

Plasticine Sculpture, Mold Making, Wax Spruing for Bronze.

Grants & Awards 

1998 - Olga Botazat Scholarship.

1999 - Third Year Continuing Scholarship.

1999- Langhorst Warner Scholarship.

2020 - Greater Columbus Arts Council Professional Artist Grant


2001 - Sold anatomical study of skin to

           The University of Cincinnati,

           College of Medicine.



This language of art, of composition and line, balance between illusion and form, of perception dependent upon both the observer and the observed, has no means to be quantified, justified, or explained apart without altering the substance it holds..


My hands have owned my voice before I could ever make an explanation of them. Authenticity of voice resides in the brush-work of hands that can not lie, no matter how awkward or unclear. The making of gesture, choice of subject matter, and media is telling: in the balance and rhythm or the lack thereof, in the use of material, sensitive or rushed...layered, tedious, free, or concealed. 

And so the unformed voice becomes greater than the mind can grasp and solid ground breaks in the fall. From the decomposition of previously held truths...emerges an aesthetic, of salvaging the pieces to reconstruct a whole.

© 2020 by NERVWERX | Trace Datsi