Missionary Mary Proctor
Amazing Grace, 2014
Mixed media on board with wire hanger
80 x 40 cm
Missionary Mary Proctor (born 1960 in Florida) is an American folk or outsider artist based in Florida. She was raised by her maternal grandparents who instilled in her the importance of religion. Mary had been running a junk and odds and ends store in rural northern Florida when she suddenly turned to making art in 1995 after her aunt and two other family members were killed in a fire, trapped inside their burning house trailer. Firefighters failed in all attempts to pry open the swelled metal doors. Mary says that God then spoke to her, telling her to ‘paint the doors.’ Renaming herself ‘Missionary Mary Proctor’ and her junkyard the ‘American Folk Art Museum,’ she started to paint doors covered with her spiritual teachings and observances of righteous behavior garnered from everyday life and, especially, from her wise Grandma. Her doors range from cabinet size to large double garage doors on which Mary typically uses paint and a collage of buttons, paintbrushes, cloth and other found objects. Mary likes to think of herself as a missionary rather than an artist. “I’m just a messenger and they (the people who collect her work) are the deliverers.” Her work has been featured in exhibitions at or has been commissioned by the American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, MD (1998-99); Coca Cola Corporation, Atlanta, GA; House of Blues, New Orleans, LA, Orlando, FL and Chicago, IL; Zora Neale Hurston Museum, Eatonville, FL (1997); Tricia Collins Grand Salon, New York, NY (1996); and Mennello Museum of American Folk Art, Orlando, FL. Her work has been written about in a feature story in Raw Vision (No. 29, Winter 1999) and in the New York Times (4th April 2004) and the Smithsonian.