First Lady Casey DeSantis today announced Mary Ann Carroll as Florida’s Featured Artist in celebration of Black History Month. Mary Ann’s work will be displayed in the Governor’s Mansion for visitors to enjoy.
“I am proud to announce Mary Ann Carroll, the only original female member of the Highwaymen, as our Featured Artist in celebration of Black History Month,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “Mary Ann is a self-taught artist who overcame tremendous challenges throughout her career. Today, her priceless work is showcased in collections throughout the country and her extraordinary talent has been widely recognized with her induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Ron and I look forward to meeting members of the Carroll family and displaying her work in the Governor’s Mansion in celebration of Black History Month. As Mary Ann continues to recover from a recent illness, we will continue to keep her in our prayers.”
About Mary Ann Carroll
Mary Ann Carroll was born in 1940 in Georgia and grew up in Ft. Pierce, Florida. She was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004 as the only female member of The Highwaymen, a group of self-taught artists that made a living painting colorful Florida landscapes during the Jim Crow period.
With no galleries to display the work of black artists during this time, the Highwaymen sold their paintings from the trunks of their cars or went door-to-door, selling their work to hotels, doctors’ offices and banks. Art was always Mary Ann’s main source of income, but when business was slow, she worked odd jobs to make ends meet. Life was sometimes a struggle, but she persevered and singlehandedly raised seven children. Whereas her fellow painters could travel far from home to sell their paintings, she had to be back in Ft. Pierce each afternoon to pick her children up from school, prepare dinner and oversee homework. All the while she honed her artistic skills and sold paintings when and where she could.
Paintings by the Highwaymen are still affectionately called “Hotel Art.” Many famous and successful people purchased the art for $10 to $25 with little interest in the work. Years later, a buzz grew about the work of these ambitious black artists. As their popularity increased, a new interest and “art rush” came to many who had tucked the paintings away. As the paintings surfaced from attics, garages and estate sales, these paintings that once sold for $25 were now suddenly worth thousands.
Mary Ann Carroll has been featured in several documentaries and on National Public Radio (NPR). Over the years she has supported many fine charities and she continues to be a generous philanthropist. Her work is proudly displayed in collections in the United States and internationally.
Mary Ann recently semi-retired to rehabilitate her painting arm after a medical setback. Her wish is to see all children follow their dreams, even if those dreams don’t include painting.
For more information on Florida’s celebration of Black History Month visit: floridablackhistory.com.