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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Susan Stafford Kelly was raised in Rutherfordton. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a Master of Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College. She is the author of Carolina Classics, a collection of essays that have appeared in Our State, and five novels: How Close We Come, Even Now, The Last of Something, Now You Know, and By Accident. Susan has three grown children and lives in Greensboro with her husband, Sterling.