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Mary Proctor

Mary Louise Proctor was raised by her grandmother in Floyd, FL. She later moved to Tallahassee with her husband, and for many years owned and operated Noah’s Ark Flea Market.

In 1995, after losing family members in a fire, Proctor fasted for thirty days and had a vision. In this vision, God told her to go out into her yard and “get a door and some paint and a brush.” This marked the beginning of her life as an artist.

Mary Proctor has been called a “visionary,” a “folk artist,” and an “outsider.” She calls herself a missionary, and signs some of her works Missionary Mary Proctor. She clearly believes she receives divine inspiration which tells her what to paint. She began by painting wooden doors to stress a verse from the gospels “I am the door, if anyone enters by me he will be saved.”

After painting figures, usually in bright colors, Proctor often adds decorations, buttons, jewelry, fabrics, et cetera, from her flea market and biblical texts. Within a year of starting to paint Proctor had a solo show in a New York gallery. She has also formed sculptures from objects such as bicycle wheels and carve heads of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders from Black History.

Body-Tracing Instructions

1. Roll out your paper on the floor.

2. Lay down on top of the paper.

3. Have a partner trace your body’s outline.

4. Stand up.

5. Paint and decorate your body’s outline.


1. Roll of butcher paper

2. Pencil

3. Paint and decorations

4. (Optional, tape to hold the paper down flat)


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