At the age of 4, Tracht's mother set up a painting studio for her daughter who took to paint like a fish to water. She pursued studies of artists through her teenage years pouring over books about Warhol, Matisse, O'Keeffe and Kahlo focusing her high school studies on painting, drawing and photography. Tracht first studied Fashion Design in college, excelling in draping and commercial fashion drawing. She later enrolled in undergraduate studies at the University of Cincinnati, and continued her formal training in art through foundational studies in drawing, painting and sculpture at UC's famed DAAP school.
Tracht eventually transferred to the University of Florida and enrolled in the school's well respected and rigorous program in architecture, what Tracht considers the "mother" of all arts. She was known among her fellow students for her freehand drawing skills as well as her artistic and sculptural approach to model building, often drawing inspiration from sculptors such as Henri Moore and Louise Nevelson when conceptualizing building models. While at UF, she trained in Vicenza, Italy at the Vicenza Institute of Architecture where she was immersed in the traditional drawing methods of the Renaissance masters, studying live figure drawing, experiencing first hand the respected tradition and significance of the live figure model in Italian culture and tradition of painting.
Her senior project was archived for excellence as she used her ability to draw to create a mid rise "worker's housing" structure for the floating island of Venice, Italy. Although predating it, her design would later bring comparison's to Frank Gehry's Bilboa Museum. She earned her Bachelors of Design in Architecture with Honors from the University of Florida in 1995, and worked in architectural firms in Miami, Chicago and Tampa Bay.
In 1997, she spent a year on a painting sabbatical on the island of Grenada in the West Indies, painting al fresco landscape and seascape paintings. Inspired by island living, she experimented with an expressive, painterly style. It was in Grenada where she first began to sell her landscape paintings to European tourists and foreign dignitaries on the small island. Her work quickly gained notoriety, and the German owner of a stylish beach side resort, The Aquarium Club, invited her to hold a season long exhibition of her work.
After returning to the states, she was invited to study drawing and painting with acclaimed Florida realist Christopher Still who exposed her to the traditions and techniques of the Dutch masters. Tracht was instrumental during Still's architectural research for his renowned commission to paint large murals of Florida's history for the Florida House of Representatives. He consulted with Tracht for her knowledge of Florida's vernacular architecture known as the "Cracker Style" when coming up with an historically accurate rendition of the first governor's mansion of Florida.
Tracht continued to pursue her architectural education and went on to win a merit-based teaching assistantship to complete her Masters of Architecture degree at Miami University in 2003. While teaching graphic design to the incoming freshman architecture majors, she loaded up on formal art courses in fiber arts, ceramics and quilting, to round out her professional degree in Architecture.
Her final thesis project was an artist retreat set in Camp Hale, Colorado. Her thesis imagined a working arts center and art festival rejuvenating the existing Camp Hale site which was once a World War II training camp for the esteemed 10th Mountain Division, bringing the public and artists together, making art accessible for all.
2012 Sunfest President’s Purchase Award Winner
2014 ArtiGras Poster Winner
2016 ArtExpo New York City, Featured Artist
2016 ArtFest by the Sea Poster Winner
2016 Kelly Tracht Gallery Opened
2019 Mainsail Poster Winner