Mary L. Proctor: Painting the Way
September 20, 2022 7:55 PM   Subscribe

"I was on my way to interview an artist whose work I admire, a woman who upholds long-held cultural traditions, while using her art to heal, to connect and to communicate the philosophical and religious principles of a purposefully simple life. That life, she says, is all about raising a family, honoring God and preserving the dead — all the while making a living as an artist. How did she share herself without exploiting herself? Could she? Can any of us?"--Don't Ignore Signs: The Art of Missionary Mary Proctor (by Katherine Webb-Hehn; The Bitter Southerner)

Add some outsider art beauty to your day:

* Mary Proctor: I am Just the Messenger (video); Missionary Mary Proctor Interview (video)
* This Little Light of Mine
* Chick Be Tough
* Amazing Grace
* When a Man Loves a Woman (scroll down to the image gallery)
posted by MonkeyToes (5 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Outsider art is such an interesting thing to me. My stepfather, this gruff guy whose own children ((somewhat) lovingly) call an asshole, embarks on all these incredibly creative artistic endeavors. He's painted driftwood to look like snakes, taken a stone from everywhere he's traveled and painted it in bright & clashing colors. Every dog that's died since I've known him has a headstone he's made special for each dog that marks where he's buried them (he also made a headstone for his adopted uncle that's in the same graveyard, an honor the uncle asked for and would be tickled to know about). He's clearly got this huge creative drive.

But no one in his life ever taught him how to express his emotions, or even that his emotions were okay. I love his random art projects that I discover whenever I visit their house, I love the enthusiasm he shows it off with, but part of me is just a little sad that no one ever took him under their wing as a young boy and told him it was *good* to paint and be creative.

Mary's work is fantastic, thank you for sharing this.
posted by KirTakat at 8:30 PM on September 20 [6 favorites]

That was a super interesting article, thanks. I’d never heard of this artist before. The orientation of her figures toward the sky is really striking.

I found myself mentally tripping over the bits at the end where the journalist questions whether some of it really happened. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in a story before and it just came off strangely.
posted by eirias at 4:22 AM on September 21

Thank you for this. I love outsider art. I understand all the ways that it is Problematic, but pieces have been in my family since I was small, and the intense stares, surreal scenes, and bright colors fascinated and haunted me when I was a little girl, as they do now. Proctor's work shares that same quality.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:16 AM on September 21

Thanks for sharing this, I did not know her story or her work.
posted by rpfields at 8:46 AM on September 21

I found myself mentally tripping over the bits at the end where the journalist questions whether some of it really happened.

The author had a choice here of whether to tell Mary’s life or her story. She deliberately chose to tell her story. Mary might—and probably will—be the subject of a scholarly biography and the author was being careful not to cloud those waters. Mary’s story itself is admittedly part conjecture and mixed with her own personal spirituality, so its journalistic “truth” is somewhat different from its personal truth and no less worth telling for that.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:25 AM on September 21

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