Mary Proctor on a Folk Art Mission

Date: June 8, 2015

“It may be dark at times, yet Mary Proctor hold on to see the sun shine.”


In the mid-90s, self-taught folk artist, Mary Pryor Proctor had been running a junk and odds and ends store in rural north Florida, when she suddenly turned to making art. She was suffering some severe health problems, and became even more depressed after she lost her grandmother, aunt, and uncle in a tragic house fire in 1994. When God told her “the door is the way,” she began to paint on an old door lying in her yard. With leftover blue and white car paint, she painted on a door she had handy. She felt better. So much better that she hasn’t stopped since. She uses her stunning collection of found objects in her paintings and creations: fabrics, old blue willow plates, S & H green stamps, tin box pieces, coins, buttons, keys, used paint brushes, marbles, anything! She throws away nothing.

She has painted doors with the likenesses of African-American heroes like Martin Luther King and Sojourner Truth on them, odes to Coca-Cola and her grandmother, and in general, a sense of the happiness that her missionary work seems to provide, thus the moniker “Missionary” Mary Proctor. She also has a vast assortment of smaller pieces with bible verses that are very popular with her customers in Atlanta where she is a regular exhibitor.

Today, you can find Mary’s work online at galleries that represent her or in person at the many festivals and shows she attends such as the annual Virginia-Highland Summerfest in Atlanta. Mary also owns and operates the American Folk Art Museum & Gallery in Tallahassee, Florida where she greets patrons with, “I prayed to God for another customer and there you are. Will you bless me?” Yes, Mary, we will!

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