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April 2011

Hickory Museum of Art in Hickory, NC, Offers Works by Bob Trotman

The Hickory Museum of Art in Hickory, NC, will present the exhibit, Bob Trotman: Inverted Utopias, on view in the Coe Gallery, from Apr. 23 through June 26, 2011.

The exhibit, first presented at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC, features key works from the past decade by Trotman, a significant and widely known North Carolina artist who describes his figurative sculptures as an “off-balance hybrid” of influences that include Norman Rockwell, among other artists. Accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, Inverted Utopias includes loans from the artist, private collections, and museums, along with an existing work in the NCMA’s permanent collection.

A native of North Carolina, Trotman began his artistic career as a furniture maker, gradually moving away from crafting functional objects to creating sculpture with a human presence. Inspired by a wide range of sources, including ship figureheads, 19th-century storefront wooden effigies, and Gothic religious sculptures, Trotman’s figurative works evolved out of his earlier anthropomorphic furniture. His painted, stained, and carved wood sculptures often depict anonymous people who appear to be in various states of change or flux, both physically and emotionally. The figures are simultaneously humorous and disquieting. Dressed in suits and ties or ladylike dresses, they are portrayed upside down with their legs waving in the air, poised on the brink of jumping or leaping, or sinking into the floor as if it were made of quicksand.

Trotman’s portraits of “model citizens” are infused with enigmatic narratives that lie beneath their carved surfaces, and their startling poses give a whole new meaning to the term body language. “I’m sure we can all call to mind the idealized, utopian version of American life as offered by Norman Rockwell in the pages of the Saturday Evening Post,” Trotman says. “With my wooden figures, I’m making an inverted version of that picture, a dystopian America, where ambiguity replaces certainty.”

Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. Support is provided by The Windgate Charitable Foundation. This exhibition is also made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 828/327-8576 or visit (

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