Amazing, Ambitious Museum Show in Leon, Gto.

Icon Exhibit Opening Museum of Leon, July 13th 8 PM All Welcome

Sacred Art without God?

The word Art comes from the Latin stem ar which means to fit together. The word sacred implies being devoted or dedicated to a deity. And the word God could be taken to mean the summit of human happiness. These etymologies reflect the profound necessity humankind has for defining our history and religion through art. At least up until the last 500 years, art and God have been unmistakably linked. The purpose and inspiration for devotional art has traditionally been to join or bind together our physical and spiritual worlds.

Mary Jane Miller welcomes anyone interested, curious or confused about iconography and the journey there of, to come for a studio visit, call for an appointment. peace

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Are you an Exhausted Consumer?

Our Pathological consumption has become normal.

Our wealthy and comfortable population has what it needs, but do we call it a sin if we own more than we can care for, and still finding ourselves wanting more? We buy silly fun stuff like a solar-powered waving clown, a belly button brush, a silver-plated ice cream scoop for the one who has everything, and anything else to get through the week, feel good, and have a laugh.

Initially we are amused or emotionally satisfied with new stuff but never feel embarrassed or over indulged. Most of this frivolous consumption produces a thirty second high of hedonistic pleasure, that lasts as long as a nicotine hit. There is a hidden cost in our consumption of stupid stuff. It unfortunately often ends up in the land fill. The factory that makes it, the transport and packaging to get it to you. It may be time to slow down, be honest about our contribution to the death of the planet, and stop buying unneeded stuff.

The question is when will landfills be larger than shopping malls and golf courses?

Many products on the market have no real lasting value or life altering attributes. Remember we are usually consuming to “feel” better or make someone else “feel” better. An electronic singing door bell; a Darth Vader talking piggy bank; an ear-shaped i-phone case; an electronic wine breather; a sonic screwdriver remote control; bacon toothpaste; a plastic electronic Terry the Swearing Turtle; or – the not to missed – Scratch Off World wall map (who invented that irony); This stuff does not do anything for anyone in the long run, cannot feed the soul but it does ruin the planet. The idea is this; those who market stimulate our uncontrolled impulses. They have us by the balls with temptation and mindlessness. Consumable frivolous crap is designed to fix you, strengthen you, encourage you, make you better, make you first or best, but in reality it does none of this. The sexy girl with the tooth paste or shiny Ford Truck will never make you a better you or better sex life.

It’s a selling scam designed to make you fall out of consciousness

and spend money.

Researching her film, The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard discovered that of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1% remain in use six months after purchase. I used to paint wall murals in peoples houses. Many of these people had homes that Did Not Need a mural. The homes where already beautiful. What I noticed time and again was the vast amount of unused and unappreciated stuff! If I needed a rag, bucket or broom I went to the closet, the basement or under the sink. AMAZING what was there, the “a personal pre-dump home landfill”.  Stacks of unread magazines, nick knacks, shampoo galore, every kind of cleaning agent newly scented, multiples of tape, spices, screwdrivers, clips, rolls of paper, etc. never used, but purchased “just in case”.

Our consumerism impacts future generations.


What is paramount to my tirade is taking the time to look critically at the stuff we “have to buy” and it’s expense to the planet and future generations. To own a plastic wiggling baby toy given as a joke to an adult embodies a huge determent to the environment. All included- raw materials, manufacturing, the package and transport, adverting, gift wrapping, and then final transportation to the land fill all for 6 dollars! It goes to the land fill after we have played with it for 10 minutes, 3 times and shown it to 2 people. The Cost of “feeling good” is outrageous. The frivolous fun of purchasing this instant joy stuff is a slow death for our planet. Much of the stuff is made from combinations of plastic, tin, glass, wood, paint, etc. and electronics filled with compounds of nonrenewable natural materials, including extracted zinc, lead, copper or mercury.

Think, maybe our impulse consumerism offers no real value.

Fossil fuels and resources are gleaned from neighboring countries with no regard for human life or the planet. Powerful corporate strategies manipulate other nations to utilized their land and resources to build and sustain free enterprise and free trade. The wealth of our industrial complex manufactures and consumes everything and is creating more than half of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere just so we can have imported scented toilet paper with little ducks hand printed on them. We are screwing the planet to make solar-powered bath thermometers to tell us if the water is hot.

BUY what is useful and necessary,

GO SIMPLE and Consume LESS.



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Fantastic way to Explore Mind, Image and Prayer

Exhibit to open in the MUSEO DE LA CIUDAD DE LEÓN 

July 15 th to September 7th

Egg tempera is one of the oldest mediums used in the history of paint to make art. The only mediums which precede it are blood used in early cave paintings and early Egyptian wall painting painted with colored minerals. The history of painting reaches back to pre-historic humans, and since then we have created an on going river of creativity to depict who we are, our history, soul and spirit.

Tempera consists of dry earth pigment, water and egg yolk. To temper something is to make it hard, in this case, to adhere earth pigments to a surface. The grease in the blood hardened to keep the cave paintings fast to the wall, much later, wax, lime gesso and egg yolk were used as other tempering agents. The colored earth pigments are not only used in tempera, but are found in fresco, encaustic (wax) and oil and watercolor paints as well. Tempera was utilized around the world for the icons of Russia and Greece, for the giant panels of Italian painters, for Islamic manuscripts, and artist like Andrew Wyeth.

The Nun in the House

Many years ago I took a quiet vow, never revealed it to anyone; it was between the universe and me. I vowed to live my life as if I were cloistered in my home and studio. There was no lengthy set of rules or obligations only the intent to always place god first and remember to retreat to my home as often as possible to find him/her there. It has been a marvelous past 20 years. The vow I made was a covenant to be faithfully teach myself the technique of egg tempera and turn away a bit more from the world in general.

The Nature Revelation

The idea of becoming an iconographer and getting completely wrapped up with Mary and Jesus was never a desire of mine, Revelation is when something is seen brightly and unavoidably understood by the recipient. There was very little understanding as I began, but now I see the commitment unfolding in Gods time while I dedicate each hour in the studio. One of my greatest revelations was realizing the earth is precious in all its abundant diversity. Pushing around small particles of sand to create divine image is still the main reason I find this process and technique so emotionally deep and spiritually rich. The challenge is to allow transformation through your love and awareness of what you do. If you Love Golf and you are aware of the time and dedication you have to the game, then ask yourself how has it transformed you. If it has not changed you in some profound way, I would find another way to spend your time.

Icon Painting is a Sacrament

Christians define sacrament as an outward and visible sign of an inward spiritual grace. Others say, sacraments are expressions of what God loves. Either way the work of painting divine image is mystical as well as sacramental. I show up every day to slug my way through something which I will never fully understand and regretfully; the work will never reflect fully the magnificent spiritual awareness i feel within. My sister would repeatedly remind me, (may she rest in peace), Mary Jane it is not about you and the icon it is about the Love of God. So harsh really, my ego and pride is at stake. She called me into accountability for how great is my love of God? Yet where sacrament is concerned, it is not about the priest or the one who officiates but rather the effect it has on the participants.

In this regard I hope these icons have a sacramental quality that might alter your perspective and orient it towards the WOW of being here now, and that will have to be enough.

MUSEO DE LA CIUDAD DE LEÓN   Hermanos Aldama n.136 Zona Centro Facebook: Museo de la ciudad de León.  Tel. 01 (477) 714 5022

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New Theology, a Women’s Unexpected Treasure

Women’s voices and their images have been lacking in Christian theology for 2,000 years. Christian art has typically focused on Mary, Mother of Jesus whose holiness the everyday woman could not possibly attain. She also is praised for her obedience and silence, a heart filled with love yet no reference to mind. But it is documented that inquisitive women like myself were around in Christ’s time, listening to His message and learning from Him. Where are the images of these women, where is their wisdom? Catholic Church teachings as we know them were once considered unchangeable but because of newly discovered texts and the contemporary phrasing of old theology, we cannot help but reexamine who we are in God. There is a movement underway for a modern Catholic ideology about women’s issues inside the church and out. The movie industry has taken the subject into the public like never before. The book I have created, In Light of Women, fits perfectly into this new debate and conversation.

The visual language of the sacred art of iconography has cultivated my own rebellious spirit. With my book I want to address the possibility of a new attitude: that women can stand equally beside men in a more contemporary vision of the world. Christ’s teachings regarded women in a variety of roles and the consequences of editing them out of theology has hurt everyone. While I am deeply respectful of the iconography tradition and knowledgeable of its long history, I want my book to challenge the male-dominated church landscape of today’s theology.


In Light of Women Our 72-page book incorporates 24 full-color icons, The images are juxtaposed with text that includes religious history, religious context and my own reflection inspired by my meditation and thoughts during 25 years of dedication to this ancient technique and prayer form. The contemporary icons are done in the ancient medium of tempera which utilizes a mixture of egg yolk and ground earth pigments. The book includes a thorough introduction and three distinct sections that build to my most dynamic and contemporary works highlighted in the book. Part 1, Mary Icons; explore the history of Mary’s image in iconography through the tradition’s most popular images of her. Part 2, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene; explores icons that were inspired by the Gnostic text with some creative insights from traditional theology. Part 3, Feminine Voice; explores classic icons interpreted with women added to them.

This book In Light of Women will prove to be New Theology, a Women’s Unexpected Treasure.


The book is timely, important, interesting, with new perspectives and questions to be asked. In the time of Christ I like to think any women named Mary was special. Mary was the name given to women who were teachers, intelligent, healers, mystics and more. Mary walks with us in this new age and is just beginning to speak.

The book lends itself as a great resource for books groups and women’s studies, or lectures to stimulate dialogue one icon at a time.

Purchase a copy on AMAZON


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Art and Spirituality, the Love of Being Bold


Someone came in my studio a while ago and exclaimed, “it is rare for me to see artwork that I want to own. I usually find myself saying…I could do that! I don’t have artwork on my walls because I like looking at clean and empty space. The walls of my house are a blank canvas. However, when I saw Mary Jane Miller’s Icons, I wanted one “.  One student said, ” one of her classes changed me, on the inside. Icons are truly a window into another dimension, a heavenly dimension. When I look at Mary Jane’s work I am transported; I am filled with peace”.

Kelly Vandiver asked me in an interview. 

I asked Mary Jane about her unusual pieces and believe me when I say she is very creative and marches to her own drum. She mixes Art and Spirituality,and has the Love of Being Bold. Occasionally, she will paint a Buddha Icon, an icon of Christ the pantocrator as an alien,  paintings of the “Last Supper”, but with very different (from the traditional) settings like in a Middle Eastern silk tent, African tribes women and even Krishna with his disciples.

1. Mary Jane, how were you first introduced to painting Icons?

More than twenty years ago I took a workshop as a kindness to a friend that organized a workshop and didn’t have enough people to pay the instructor. The instructor was an benedictine priest/orthodox iconographer. He taught the icon workshop with acrylics. The painting experience was of no consequence to me but his 15 minute lecture/slide show every morning for 5 days introduced and allowed me to fall in love with the imagery and history of icon painting as a language of prayer.

2. Talk a little about the spiritual aspects involved in painting an Icon?

The use of egg tempera is a spiritual experience by its very nature. Egg yolk, the raw potential for life and million year old dirt combine to create divine image. As basic and simple as it is, over time one begins to see the simplicity of Christ’s message. The practice has taught me one thing over and over. Humans are made of for living (symbolic egg yolk, potential for life) and flesh (symbolic dirt or dust of the earth you might say) and we are actually living walking icons of Christ consciousness.

3. How does it make you feel knowing you have successfully merged your career and your spirituality?


It’s challenging and humbling. I have been given the special gift of finding out what i love to do and merge it with a daily life activity. Pray and paint. I often look at my hands and wonder how can these hands belong to me?

4. Talk a little about what makes your Icons so unique?

Are they? I try to find myself and the spirit of god as I paint. The final image always falls slightly short. Short enough to want to try painting another icon, and so it goes week after week.

5. What do you hope people take away from viewing your Icons?

If they have one thought about the mystery of why are we here, I would consider the finished work a gift to the world and a good reason for me to keep working. I feel the world needs sacred art, after all, think of the thousands of tourist going everywhere around the globe to stand on sacred ground. It is expensive to travel. i can travel in an icon if i look at one long enough. The hope is for the work to make people stop and reflect for one minute each day. I suppose it is a lot to ask from a work of art, but i try.

6. What projects are you currently working on?

Recently published on, In Light of Women. My own journey with icons looking for the answer to why there are so few women portrayed in this great tradition. We are finding our voice around the globe, i want the christian church in general to sustain the debate until both men and women we we are all human being in one God. The other popular book from years ago is the icon painting hand book, “Icon Painting Techniques”,
Both great in any collection or icon painting artists and those who love spirituality.

Art and Spirituality, the Love of Being Bold

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Icon Painting Retreat to Learn and Rest

About promoting a workshop, in the beautiful retreat center  called The Jubilee House, In Abingdon, Virginia, July 16 to July 20 2018.  This 5 day workshop introduces the practice and theory of traditional icon painting/writing, offered as a meditation as well as a painting class.

Mary Jane Miller has 20 years of experience as a master iconographer and teacher of ancient iconography using the medium of egg tempera. Icon painting and their images potentially reveal our thoughts about God and ourselves in the world. One main goal of the practice is to cultivate a clear and conscious icon image that becomes a lasting window to the divine.

No artistic experience is necessary for the workshop.

There has been an increased interest in icon painting around the world. Classic Modern Catholic or Orthodox Iconography offers an encouraging new dimensions to spiritual life through study and a new revived focus on faith.

Mary Jane will open the Workshop with a slide lecture being help at William King Art Center Abingdon, Virginia. LECTURE 2PM Touching the Sacred.

Peace be with you, Mary Jane Miller

READ more on the Blog 10 Great Reasons to take an icon ClassWhy Icons?

Announcement to post Iconography Workshop July 16 to July 20 2018

Jubilee House Retreat & Conference Center Contact info: Karen & Bob Vaughan:

Website, info and sign up Sacred Icons Retreat

Contact Mary Jane Miller iconographer

web site;    


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Being Old is like Being Pregnant

The Pregnancy

Happy lovers have plenty of sex and then one day Bamm, the doctor tells you you’re with child. We spend the next 8 months thinking about change, a lot of it. Good thing we don’t have sex and the next day produce a five year old running around and talking. The transition would be too much to bear. We have 9 months to prepare for a baby the same way we get old slowly. I woke up recently and Bamm, I realized I am pregnant with old age; I want it to be a distant idea, but it is a state of being now; I can’t ignore it and I can’t avoid it.

By some wonderful design, getting pregnant and getting old both provide time for us to gradually get used to what will be a big change.

The sex was pure fun and carefree delight however when you find out your pregnant you realize quick, your life has changed. The inevitability of aging is no different. We live carefree lives and then, Ah Ha! you realize your life is not your own and from then on, it is surrender to letting go of all you delighted in. I am over 63 now and have out lived 4 family members. What this tells me is “get ready”. The horizon of dying is in sight. I find myself asking; Have I had enough? How much more time? How do I keep going and why? The big change of a coming birth or impending death demand new ways to be in the world with a good deal of mystery and fear, joy and humor.


Pregnancy is the end result of a couple who set into motion a new life and loose some of themselves in the process. Aging is like that. It is the absolute loss of self. At some point we come to grips with the fact that our life will not go on forever, and no one can prepare us for what we will loose. Our freedom, independence and control are only some of the losses. But actually aging has nothing to do with dying; it is time to prepare for new life in a new dimension. The old life is displaced by the new one.

The Birth

It is shocking to hold in your arms all the potential for abundant life. There are endless responsibilities and choices which need to be made for this little creature. There is no turning back; there is no avoiding the bond between the two of you and the commitment. Advanced aging is similar,  getting old even when you have no idea how it will play out. You have to deal with uncharted territory; I am alone in what will be. Hang in there, accept it is happening and commit yourself to the undeniable truth you are going to die so don’t waste any more time with illusions. Mothers own their babies but have to let them go, same with the life we thought we owned, we have to let it go. The life we have lived was on loan and one day we are forced to give it away, like a mother who surrenders her child into the world.

I watched my Mexican in laws, 89 and 87 sit together for hours, they didn’t even talk. Who knows what they were thinking. Basically their simple life was eating, pooping and sleeping. Their children, the house, their life’s work, and the people they knew had all morphed into something else. I think I was watching them relinquish one thought and experience at a time. It’s all lost in the end and it is what it is. Rejoice, it wasn’t really ours anyway!

No one can prepare us for the freedom and simplicity we will have once we are dead. Aging is an opening to newness just like a pregnancy brings forth new life. Both are intense and have so much to teach us, so stay awake.

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