bob trotman studio tour
photograph by Emily Chaplin

bob trotman 2Hands dangle from the ceiling in a studio with bucolic views of the Blue Ridge Foothills. Casually unsettling, life-size heads stare blankly among table saws, planers, sculpting tools, a woodstove, and a Bruegel engraving. This is where artist Bob Trotman sculpts businessmen and -women enraptured — or captured — by their careers. A giant, pure-white man wearing a suit, a signet ring inscribed ME, and a disturbing grimace, strains against a wire tether. Life-size or knee-high, carved or cast, Trotman’s creations are purposely ambiguous. Are his inanimate humans reaching for freedom or grasping for wealth? Fleeing their desks or forging chains to their cubicles? “I’m not unsympathetic,” Trotman says, and smiles.

Trotman’s work is inspired, in part, by traditional religious carvings and the figureheads once found at the prows of ships. See his work at

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Kelly is a contributing editor at Our State. She is the author of By Accident and the novels Now You Know, The Last of Something, Even Now, and How Close We Come, winner of the Carolina Novel Award and an alternate selection of Book-of-the-Month Club. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lives in Greensboro.