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Work Samples

Self Portrait (9 months pregnant with second child)

Fiber wall hanging
2018 36”x36” Cotton, Cord, bisque fired stonewar

End of my Rope - Performance Still

ball of knots
Still from End of my Rope Performance

Self Portrait Detail

Wall hanging with ceramic tiles and fiber
Detail photo of Self Portrait

Ivory City 2

2011 14" x 24" Digital Print


About Nora

Baltimore City

Nora Howell's picture
Nora Howell is a fiber and performance-based sculpture artist and art administrator living in Baltimore, Maryland. In her art, Nora uses a mix of ceramics and soft sculpture to develop a visual language to illuminate and stimulate dialogue around themes of motherhood, racial identity, community, power, and privilege. For 8.5 years Howell was the Program Director of Jubilee Arts, a community-arts program in west Baltimore that uses art as a tool for building community and changing the future. She is a... more


This series explores the joy, struggle, and strain of motherhood. Using stretch marks as a physical representation of the tension, resilience, flexibility, and limits of my own body, these pieces trace my journey through child-bearing, breastfeeding, parenting, and self-acceptance. Constructed with ordinary yarn, these pieces highlight the beauty in the often disregarded and concealed parts of our journeys. 

  • Self Portrait (9 months pregnant with second child)

    Wall hanging with ceramic tiles and fiber
    2018 36”x36” Cotton, Cord, bisque fired stoneware
  • The After Party (2 months postpartum with second child))

    Wall hanging with ceramic tiles and fiber
    2020 18" x 24" Cotton, cord, bisque fired stoneware
  • Weight-Wait

    Fiber wall hanging, ball of fiber hanging from ceramic breast
    2021 70" x 10" x 10" Cotton, Cord, Porcelain Feeding our children is a juxtaposition of joy, snuggles, love, hard choices, shame, and mom guilt. One of the things I associate with nursing is weight. The physical heaviness of holding a baby for hours, the weight of decisions of how/when you should feed your baby. And waiting. The many hours being still restricted in movement caring for, loving your baby. You love it. You also wish you could reach your phone/water/dinner.
  • I Can Work on Accepting Myself

    Fiber wall hanging, ball of fiber hanging from ceramic breast
    2021 13" x 10" Cotton, Cord, Porcelain, Velvet, Wool, Lace These pieces embody this tension with my physical stretch marks and scars. Starting with photographs, I molded clay in the shape of my smooth skin and filled the gaps left by stretch marks with fiber that mimics their texture. On the back of the piece is a hand stitched affirmation chosen through in EMDR therapy: “I can work on accepting myself." Repeating these words and stitching them into my art has been a step in my journey of self acceptance.
  • Self Portrait Detail

    Wall hanging with ceramic tiles and fiber
    Detail photo of Self Portrait

At the End of my Rope

Inspired by the persistent anxiety and fear filling my chest since early 2020, this performance piece creates a physical representation to how I felt throughout the past year and a half--the continual uncertainty, grief, loss, and tragedy. . 

I begin the piece fidgeting with a rope, nervously, then I start tying knots. Each knot symbolizes the 428 days from Baltimore city’s lock down until the day I was fully vaccinated. The accumulation of the knots fills the table, my arms, and my entire chest cavity (physically and metaphorically). I then begin untying knots. I untie 86 knots symbolizing the number of days from the day I was fully vaccinated until the rise of the Delta variant changed the game once again. At this point, I start re-tying knots, more dread, more uncertainty, more fear. 

The piece took me an hour. By the end, my arms were sore and heavy. I was exhausted. You can watch a timelapse of the performance here:

Peter Bruun who generously wrote about the piece, summed it up as, “Deceptively simple, At the End of My Rope is a tale of unfolding existential dread—her own and Ours.” 

I know many of you share this feeling of existential dread.The piece will obviously not take the anxiety away but know you are not alone.

Ontological Expansiveness

This body of work explores politicals of racialized space. Who controls the space? Who benefits and who loses from the control of realistate and social spaces? The work is a metaphor of Black and White space and what can happen when White people enter historical or socially Black space. ⁠Inspired by Shannon Sullivan's research and writing on "white ontological expansiveness." The tendency of white people intentionally and unintentionally assuming that any space (geographic, linguistic, economic, spiritual, bodily, all of it!) is available to them to move in and about freely. To take up space.

  • Map of Baltimore

    Fiber and ceramic map of Baltimore
    2021 14.5" x 20" Cotton, Cord, porcelain Map of Baltimore and its accompanying brand new video, "The Making of a Segregated City." The video, which is a collaboration with my sister, Junia Howell, PhD, breaks down the history of Baltimore's housing segregation and its legacy.
  • Sphere of Influence

    Wall hanging with ceramic tiles and fiber
    2021 13” x 35” Porcelain and Fiber Sculpture
  • Whose Space?

    Wall hanging with ceramic tiles and fiber
    2020 7” x 11” Porcelain and Mixed Fiber Sculpture
  • White Thoughts

    Ribbon sculpture
    2020 Ribbon, paint marker - 2’x8’x2’ In the wake of the 2020 racial Uprising, I revisited my “Privileged White Thoughts (2009)” sculpture. This sculpture used journal notes from my time in college studying systemic racism to embodying my ‘White Thoughts.’ As part of revisiting this piece in 2020, I read new books about racism, whiteness, and antiracism activists. I challenged myself to once again write down my earnest reflections, experiences, and role in the system of white supremacy. My aim was to learn from my gut reactions and emotions and avoid defensiveness and denial.

White on White and Black on White

My recent works investigate the concept and contextualized reality of whiteness primarily through performance-based sculpture and video. Having lived in communities as the racial majority and other communities as the numerical minority has challenged me to examine what it means to be white. At times I am overwhelmed by the complexities of whiteness and other times understand it to be simply that which is not white. The works in this show explore the space where whiteness is most apparent?juxtaposed with blackness.

White Girl's Birthday Suit

Oblivia around town. Consumed by her own musings, Oblivia seems unaware of the impact of her ?cracker-ness? on those around her.

Many people have asked what the significance is in my use of crackers. The origin of the term cracker is disputed, but clearly seems to originate chiefly in Georgia and Florida. The term may refer to people who cracked whips over their oxen and mules taking cotton to market, or cracking corn. Although history does not leave a clear record of how the term originated, it came to signify poor whites and often illiterate emigrants from Scotland, Ireland or Germany. Bill Clinton used the term ?cracker? to refer to the white votes he was intending to win over for Barack Obama. Whatever the origin of the term, I use the cracker as a metaphor for a person with white skin, hence the name of the Cracker Dress: ?White Girl?s Birthday Suit.?

Cracker dress photographed by Natalie Tranelli

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Nora's Curated Collection

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