Mary Ann Carroll: (1940 - 2019)
Born: Sandersville, Georgia
Mary Ann Carroll was born in Sandersville, Georgia and grew up in Fort Pierce, Florida. Mary Ann never had formal training in art however, she always liked to draw. Mary Ann was about sixteen at the time when she met Harold Newton painting on the streets in Fort Pierce. Intrigued by Harolds colorful painting she asked him to teach her how to paint. Harold agreed and taught her how to mix colors, paint and eventually showed her how to construct frames. Mary Ann worked hard and practiced at home and before long was creating her own paintings. Mary Ann quickly got to know other painters in Fort Pierce because she was one of the few artists who had a car and could make selling on the highway possible. Her first road trip was to Melbourne with Livingston Roberts where she sold four paintings and earned seventy dollars.
Among the Highwaymen painters, Carroll’s resilience and grit is legendary. She had responsibilities the other Highwaymen didn’t have or didn’t have to handle alone. Besides painting landscapes, she took on many other jobs, although she acknowledges using welfare during some really hard times. She worked as a carpenter, an electrician, a house painter, a pastor, and an organist at the Foundation Revival Church of Fort Pierce. She cut lawns and worked on cars. Mary Ann worked very hard to raise money for her seven children, at the time her husband left her youngest child was five years old. “It wasn’t easy,” she said, “but I didn’t look at it as being hard. You do what you have to.”
Mary Ann often travels and speaks about her experiences as a Highway-woman. (She points out the gender discrimination in the naming.) In 2012, along with James Gibson, she was recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama for her talents at the White House in Washington D.C. Mary Ann acknowledges that all the recognition she now receives for her artwork is wonderful. But what she likes most about painting is that it “brings peace to your mind.”
Mary Ann Carroll Biography information: obtained from website thehighwaymentrail.com (This website is a fantastic reference to learn about the 26 Florida Highwaymen artists and their importance to Florida's history); Florida's Highwaymen Legendary Landscapes by Bob Beatty.