Missionary Mary Proctor

Born 1960
Lives Tallahassee, FL

Mary Proctor was a self-described "Junk Dealer" for years, until a tragedy struck her family. Her grandmother, aunt and uncle were all killed in a house fire. Shortly after this, a grief-struck Mary was given a vision. A voice told her to paint one of the many old doors in her junkyard. Mary listened to the voice and soon found herself painting everything she could find.

Mary sees herself as a Missionary, and her goal is to use her art to spread her message. Typical paintings show stories from her life, or members of her family, and usually include a message, or a lesson that she's learned and wants to share. Mary takes objects that she finds in her junkyard (now called her Folk Art Museum) and adds them to the paintings, usually with hot glue or liquid nails, giving the pieces a three dimensional effect. She uses just about anything in her paintings, from silverware to cut-up dollar bills. Sizes of the pieces run from a foot or so in height to her enormous and impressive doors.

"My Grandma Old Blue Willow Plates"

Through her art, Mary has found peace with her past, and a mission in life. She enjoys having visitors to her Museum and enthusiastically guides tours through the compound. There you can see her tower of bicycles (much like Howard Finster's) and several buildings overflowing with paintings and sculptures. I particularly enjoyed her Hall of Presidents, in which she's made a life-size replica of every single U.S. President out of cut-up Coke cans, complete with a history and a quote from each one.

Mary is also very interested in Black history and has done pieces honoring important figures like Zora Neale Hurston. In fact, Mary has had a wonderful exhibit at the Zora Neale Hurston Museum in Hurston's hometown of Eatonville, Florida.

Mary's Museum is very easy to get to in Tallahassee. The sight of this energetic and committed woman all dressed up and running a chain saw in the yard is worth a visit by itself.

"The Queen Of All Trade" (self-portrait)


Vollis Simpson
Jack Poppitz