February - December, 2022
I am Just the Messenger is an exhibition of artwork by Missionary Mary L. Proctor from the Gadsden Arts Permanent Collection, private collections, and the collection of the artist. Proctor has been creating her visions in mixed media art for the last 25 years. Like many vernacular and self-taught artists, she can pinpoint the exact moment and reason why she began to paint. In 1994, a fire took the lives of her grandmother, aunt, and uncle. Deeply depressed by her terrible loss, Proctor found comfort in her Christian faith, and in 1995, was visited by a vision telling her to get a door and paint. From that day forward, Proctor has taken it upon herself to be a missionary to the world, using doors as passageways to freedom, peace, and comfort, and instilling her paintings with passages from scripture, and glittering angels. She calls herself “Missionary Mary” and uses a myriad of found materials – buttons, sticks, broken pieces of glass, mirrors, plates – to complete her compositions. For Mary, putting together items that are unwanted or broken represents the process of mending.
The Permanent Collection includes an ever-growing visual repository of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and assemblage pieces. Cohesive subsets from the collection have traveled to other institutions, among them the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, NC; the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, MD; and the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs, FL; fulfilling the ethical obligation of a collecting institution to share this artwork with other communities.