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Office: Sculpture by Bob Trotman

April 10 - September 30, 2012

 

Office: Sculpture by Bob Trotman, an exhibition of figurative works by one of North Carolina's leading contemporary sculptors, is currently on display at the Morris Museum of Art and remains on display through September 30, 2012.

Working in wood, he see his artistic efforts as the direct outgrowth of certain vernacular traditions -- carved religious figures, ships' figureheads, and the so-called "show figures" found in the nineteenth century outside shops and in circuses. As a contemporary artist, he is fascinated by what he describes as the "noir narrative of life at the office." His wooden people, often surprisingly posed, evoke both humor and anxiety and, taken together, offer an absurdist vision of an imaginary corporate purgatory. Trotman, largely self-taught as an artist, has maintained a studio in western North Carolina for more than thirty-five years. The recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants and four grants from the North Carolina Arts Council, he is represented by major works of art in the Smithsonian Institution, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Mint Museum of Art, the Museum of Art of the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, to cite just a few.

 

 

(above: Bob Trotman, Clubman, 2012. Courtesy of the artist)

 

Wall text for the exhibition

 
Bob Trotman
 
A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he was born in 1947, Trotman earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy at Washington and Lee University. After college, he began teaching English and developed a serious interest in poetry before becoming involved in the visual arts in the 1970s.
 
Though principally self-taught as an artist, Trotman has also studied with Francisco Rivera at the Sculpture Center in New York City (now in Long Island City), Robert Morris and James Surls at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and Sam Maloof and Jon Brooks at the Penland School of Crafts in Penland, North Carolina. He began his artistic career as a furniture maker and gradually moved away from crafting functional objects to creating sculpture.
 
Since 1997, his art has almost always involved the depiction of corporal beings. He has said that he believes his carvings have always had a human quality within them. Inspired by a wide range of sources, including ship figureheads, nineteenth-century storefront wooden effigies, and Gothic religious sculptures, his painted, stained, and carved-wood sculptures often depict anonymous people who appear to be in various states of change, both physically and emotionally. For more than thirty-five years, he has maintained a studio in Rutherford County, North Carolina, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
 
His work has been the subject of previous one-person exhibitions at the Cameron Art Museum, the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Mint Museum of Art, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, the Visual Arts Center of Richmond (formerly the Hand Workshop Art Center), the Franklin Parrasch Gallery, and the Hodges Taylor Gallery, to cite just a few.
 
He is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants, as well as four grants from the North Carolina Arts Council. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Asheville Art Museum, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the Mint Museum of Art, the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, the Art Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Arizona State University Art Museum, among many others.
 
 
Artist's Statement
 
"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 in the nineteenth century outside shops and in circuses. But as a contemporary artist I am fascinated by a noir narrative of life at the office. My wooden people, often surprisingly posed, evoke both humor and anxiety and, taken together, offer an absurdist vision of an imaginary corporate purgatory."
 
In a lecture he delivered at the Penland School of Crafts in 2008, he said of his work, "I'm sure we can all call to mind the idealized, utopian vision of American life as offered by Norman Rockwell in the pages of the Saturday Evening Post. With my wooden figures I'm making an inverted version of that picture, a dystopian America where ambiguity replaces certainty, doubt replaces authority, corruption threatens integrity, self-interest supplants altruism, and cracks appear everywhere in the smooth surface of our collective prosperity.
 
"My figures are antimonumental. They never stand confidently on their plinths as statues have typically done in the past. They are not heroes. They do not project institutional values. They are always off balance, stumbling, falling, and tumbling into the uncertainty of the future."

(above: Bob Trotman, Deskman, 2011. Courtesy of the artist)

 

Checklist for the exhibition

Artist: Bob Trotman
Title: Deskman (includes two floor lamps and a potted plant)
Media: Wood, tempera, latex, wax, casters
Date: 2011
Dimensions: 59 high x 78 wide x 48 deep
Publicity credit: Bob Trotman, Deskman, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.
 
Artist: Bob Trotman
Title: Clubman
Media: Wood, tempera, latex, wax
Date: 2012
Dimensions: 50 high x 22 wide x 21 deep
Publicity credit: Bob Trotman, Clubman, 2012. Courtesy of the artist.
 
Artist: Bob Trotman
Title: Go Getter
Media: Terra cotta, wood, tempera, wax, PVC column, wood base, concrete (weight inside column)
Date: 2011
Dimensions: 59 high x 25 wide x 14 deep
Publicity credit: Bob Trotman, Go Getter, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.
 
Artist: Bob Trotman
Title: John
Media: Wood, steel, mending plates, tempera, wax, PVC column, wood base, concrete (weight inside column)
Date: 2004
Dimensions: 70 high x 25 wide x 17 deep
Publicity credit: Bob Trotman, John, 2004. Courtesy of the artist.
 
Artist: Bob Trotman
Title: Stu
Media: Wood, steel, mending plates, tempera, wax, PVC column, wood base, concrete (weight inside column)
Date: 2004
Dimensions: 69 high x 27 wide x 20 deep
Publicity credit: Bob Trotman, John, 2004. Courtesy of the artist.
 
Artist: Bob Trotman
Title: Lisa
Media: Wood, tempera, latex and wax
Date: 2004
Dimensions: 28 high x 23 wide x 18 deep
Publicity credit: Bob Trotman, Lisa, 2004. Courtesy of the artist.
 
Artist: Bob Trotman
Title: Jane
Media: Wood, tempera, latex and wax
Date: 2005
Dimensions: 72 high x 25 wide x 18 deep
Publicity credit: Bob Trotman, Jane, 2005. Courtesy of the artist.
 
Artist: Bob Trotman
Title: Paul
Media: Wood, tempera, latex and wax
Date: 2000
Dimensions: 17 high x 26 wide x 54 deep
Publicity credit: Bob Trotman, Paul, 2000. Courtesy of the artist.
 

 

(above: Gallery shot. Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia)

 

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