The Queue: Bob Trotman

The Queue: Bob Trotman

Discover what individuals from our craft community are into right now.

Published on Monday, November 2, 2020.
Cover Graphic for The Queue featuring Bob Trotman

Introducing the Legacy series of The Queue

Alongside the winners our 2020 Awards being featured in the October/November 2020 issue of American Craft, the Legacy series of The Queue offers a platform for this group of incredible artists and advocates to share personally about their lives and work. Plus, take in their shortlists of exciting projects, people to follow, content to consume, and more.

From human warmth to biting satire, Bob Trotman captures it in wood

Based in Casar, North Carolina, Bob Trotman is a self-taught craftsman, former furniture maker, woodworker, and sculptor. Experience his work and read more about his career in the "Honoring Accomplishments" feature from our Legacy issue of American Craft.

How do you describe your work or practice in 50 words or less?
Working mostly in wood, I see my efforts in relation to the vernacular traditions of carved religious figures, ships' figureheads, and the so-called “show figures” found outside shops in the nineteenth century. However, as a contemporary artist, I want to use this tradition as a point of departure for an oblique, satirical commentary on the workings of money and power in America today.

Portrait of Bob Trotman

Portrait: Courtesy of Bob Trotman

As an ACC Fellow, what responsibilities come with this type of recognition?
To nominate new Fellows.

What type of legacy do you hope to leave with your work and career?
Legacy: a satirical, philosophical commentary, somewhat in the manner of an outsider artist, self-taught but not technically naive or unschooled in contemporary thought. Wood, laboriously worked, often at a fairly large scale, gives expression to a human warmth and a physical urgency that can be felt by living bodies.

What’s an exhibition or art project you think the world should know about, and why?
For the past 15 years I have worked very hard to make my traveling museum show, “Business as Usual,” an exhibition worth seeing. The show comprises about 20 – 25 pieces, some quite large, many kinetic, with audio and video elements. The effect is intended to be, by turns, biting, empathetic, humorous, and unsettling.

Bob Trotman with his piece Fountain
Vertigo by Bob Trotman at North Carolina Museum of Art

Above: Bob with Fountain.

Left: Vertigo pictured at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

See more of Bobs work and learn about our other 2020 ACC Awards recipients in "Honoring Accomplishments."

Photos: Courtesy of the artist

What book should we be reading or paying attention to right now?
I can’t say what you should read. I am reading The Phenomenology of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the novels of Toni Morrison. Both authors embody a masterful use of language and open new territories of imagination for me.

If you could purchase any artist's work for your home or studio, whose would it be and why?
My choice of work to own: a drawing by Bill Traylor or a painting by Wayne Thiebaud, for their independence and authenticity. Their freshness and simplicity lies at such a deep level I don’t think I could ever exhaust it. T.S. Eliot spoke of “a condition of complete simplicity costing not less than everything.”

Cover of The Phenomenology of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Wood, laboriously worked, often at a fairly large scale, gives expression to a human warmth and a physical urgency that can be felt by living bodies.

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