Random, Awkward and AWESOME with Artist Resident Norola Morgan: Iconic Catalyst

Norola Morgan is a mixed-media artist, performer, and teaching artist living in Houston, Texas. This is her third installment in a 4-part series as Artist Strong’s Artist in Residence. You can enjoy more of her art and random musings over on Instagram: @studio.moonyoonits.

She is excited to be re-opening her online shop, but it is not yet live. Home | MoonYoonits Studios (square.site) will be live in a few days so that you can get your fix of handcrafted wit, whimsy and weirdness!

Barbie. She of the fabulous wardrobe, dozens of careers, her own house and car, and a boyfriend as accessory named Ken. Love her? Hate her? I personally love her, and as an avid fashion doll collector, I cannot WAIT to go to the Barbie movie opening this Friday. In celebration of that, this week’s post is gonna about how Barbie has been a tremendous catalyst for my art. Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, but Mom was able to get us a Barbie now and then.

Being a curious child, of course I removed Barbie’s clothes, and I discovered that she did NOT look like any of the adult women in my family I had seen naked. Women with brown skin and wrinkles. Women with fleshy bits that sagged. Women with hair in funny places. Barbie, in contrast, defied all age, gravity and body hair growth patterns. Even as a kid, I intuited that Barbie represented some bizarre, impossible physical and emotional ideal of femininity.

That unnatural smoothness and eternal perkiness perplexed me and stuck with me through the years.

And how does this tie into my personal art? This inspired me to handcraft art dolls that rebel against mass produced, smooth, plastic “perfection”. Dolls with raw edges, texture, and attitude. Dolls that have secondary sexual characteristics to remind us of their animal humanity. Dolls that are defiantly weird and awkward and one of a kind. 

It’s not just about being provocative. I’m interested in exploring issues of and ideas around body image, gender, culture, sexuality, healing, and spirituality through fabric, found objects, and storytelling. Each of my dolls is the result of the unique combination of the fabrics and found objects that make it up. Each piece forms a relationship with the others and contributes to the whole.

Barbie isn’t the only inspiration. I enjoy learning about how other cultures, past and present, explore the human form. World mythology, folklore and art have sparked my creativity since I was old enough to hold a book.

Objects talk to me. They crack jokes. They tell stories. They make demands: ‘Take me home. Make me over.’ We all co-exist together, exerting influence over each other. At the best of times, the right pieces assemble, lasting connections and commitments are made, and, a new piece is born.


Artists show up in our Artist Strong community to share their artistic process, journey, explorations with us over the course of a month.

The goal is to normalize the MANY, VARIED experiences of being an artist.

And if YOU  want to apply to be an Artist Strong Artist Resident, subscribe to our weekly updates to hear about the next time applications are open.