Elected into the College of Fellows in 2020, Bob Trotman is a self-taught craftsman, former furniture maker, woodworker, and sculptor. His carved wooden figures are often satirical, elaborate, contemporary expressions of traditional religious figures, ships’ figureheads, and commercial “show figures.” His most recent series, “Business as Usual” is a constantly evolving body of work that satirizes corporate culture through the eye of a craftsman.
Trotman was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1947 and received a BA from Washington and Lee University where he majored in philosophy. After a few years as a secondary school English teacher, he and his wife Jane moved to western North Carolina buying some acreage with an old farm house about 50 miles south of Penland School, which, at the time, he’d never heard of, but where he later took workshops with Jon Brooks and Sam Maloof. From 1974 – 1998, Bob made studio furniture which gradually evolved into a hybrid of figurative sculpture with furniture elements. In 1998, feeling that the functional reference had become vestigial, he resolved to give it up in favor of the purely sculptural, sometimes kinetic, work he has produced since then.
He has received fellowship support from NEA and the North Carolina Arts Council. Trotman's work is also in many private and public collections including the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian, Mint Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.