Past Exhibitions

Bob Trotman: Business as Usual

Saturday, March 02, 2019 - Sunday, October 06, 2019

Bob Trotman’s series Business as Usual is a constantly evolving body of work that satirizes the world of corporate business and high finance by reinterpreting it through the eye of a master artist/craftsman. The Taubman Museum of Art’s presentation of this exhibition will debut several new sculptures in addition to artworks from various institutions and collections to explore Trotman’s rich body of work.

The artist comments on Business as Usual :

“It is one thing to believe that market forces should shape business models, but quite another to believe that they should be the sole basis upon which whole societies are organized. Societies are far more complex than businesses and the health of a society is not measured by profits on a balance sheet.

Since 2005 I have been producing a growing body of work intended to critique this unfortunate tendency. It is called Business as Usual, and each exhibition, which always repeats that title, is a fresh combination of newer and older works assembled to address the inadequacies and injustices of using business as a social model.

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 mobilize this tradition to satirize the elaborate posturings of power, privilege, and pretense that secretly, or not so secretly, shape the world we live in. Humor and irony are an important part of my arsenal. These are reinforced by the recent addition of movement and sound, which, by mechanical repetition, can push amusement toward exasperation. My subjects are most often white men, not because I am unaware of the many others that make up our society, but because they are the ones who most need to be called out, both as perpetrators and beneficiaries of the status quo.

In each sculpture I try to hint at a fulcrum point in which power is brought to bear on humanity. It is usually a point of pain and injustice, and it is as old as civilization itself.”

Bob Trotman was born in Winston-Salem, NC, in 1947. He received a BA in philosophy from Washington and Lee University and for 45 years has maintained a studio in the foothills of Western North Carolina. Self-taught in art, he has received two NEA grants and four grants from the North Carolina Arts Council. His work is in the permanent collections of the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The North Carolina Museum of Art, The Weatherspoon Museum of Art, The Mint Museum of Art, The Columbia Museum of Art, The Museum of Art of the Rhode Island School of Design, and The Museum of Art and Design in New York among others.

Bob Trotman: Business as Usual will be on view March 2–October 6, 2019 in the Carilion Clinic Gallery.

This exhibition is organized by the Van Every/Smith Galleries at Davidson College in cooperation with the Projective Eye Gallery at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, the Gregg Museum of Art & Design, and the Taubman Museum of Art. 


Above image:

Floor Man (detail), 2011, Carved wood, paint, wax, 29" x 74" x 35", Courtesy of the Artist

Images (left to right, top to bottom)

Facetime, 2017, Fiberglass, Bondo, paint, 72" x 58" x 53", Courtesy of the Artist

Fountain, 2014-2016, Wood, MDF, hardware, motors, audio, pump, paint, bucket, colored water, 69" x 43" x 40", Courtesy of the Artist

(left) Jane, 2008, Wood, tempera,  51" x 35" x 23", Courtesy of the Artist; (right) Sinking Feeling, 2001, Wood, latex, tempera, 53" x 34" x 35", Collection of Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer

Me Ring, 2016, Urethane resin, Bondo, aluminum, steel, paint, cloth, wood, turntable, 16" x 20" x 20", Courtesy of the Artist

White Men, 2015, Urethane resin, 94" x 44" x 26", Courtesy of the Artist

Denier, 2016, Wood, plywood, steel, bronze, motor, artificial plants, artificial cherry, 62" x 36" x 38", Courtesy of the Artist

Lisa (detail), 2005, Wood, hardware, tempera, 70" x 24" x 20", Courtesy of the Artist

Trumpeter, 2014, Carved wood, fiberglass, audio, casein, wax, 59" x 30" x 14", Courtesy of the Artist

The Ascendancy of Desire, 2013, Wood, terra cotta, gold leaf, commercial light box, photo transparency, 42" x 27" x 14", Courtesy of the Artist