A short distance from the historic UNESCO downtown area, in the high desert of central Mexico is a fabulous studio not to be missed. Tucked away in the colonia, surrounded by a natural garden of native plants and birds, wild and disorganized sits their studio. Large windows look out on quiet space where two people create ancient image. One partner paints with earth pigments and the other creates the silver embellishments for the finest contemporary iconography in beautiful San Miguel de Allende.
Where in Mexico can you find enough hand painted icons to cover the floor? Their collection of icons is vast, from traditional to contemporary, from comical to pious; the work is unexpected and beautifully done. Miller says, “I am part theologian and part comedian. I invite you to visit, join us in conversations about the idea of God and our lively attempts to create an image as proof of his/her/it’s existence”.
Mary Jane Miller’s story
I arrived in the colonial town of San Miguel Allende, Mexico, in 1974. I knew no one, nor the language, nor a thing about the culture. I saw Valentine Gomez. It was Sunday night; he was walking the promenade around the main square with friends. He had come from his ranch, 20 kilometers away. We saw each other and after passing me three times around the square we knew each other, even though we never shared a spoken a word. Ten months later, we married. Read their memoir, The Ranch
Twenty years into the marriage I took up the icon painting as a prayer form, seduced by the power and beauty of Byzantine iconography. The practice has been a way to integrate an artist’s lifestyle while focusing on the mystery behind the question, What is spirit? Painting my first icon was like being found by Valentin. The experience was powerful, undeniable, direct, and precise. No way was I going to turn back. One encounter is all it took to decide the tradition was worth exploring inside and out.
My husband and I are are a bilingual, bi-cultural marriage between Mexican and the US. Full time artists doing Byzantine style artwork in Mexico! We have lived between two countries for 30 years, a small farm in Virginia and a three-room home in Guanajuato. For the past 15 years we have been in Mexico full time. Valentin is the gardener, carpenter, technician, engineer and my cherished stable influence, along with God. Our two personalities could not be more different yet some say we have a unique blend of energy, reflected in our work and lifestyle; a bit of tension, grace and the age old evidence of love. These ancient time-consuming techniques have taught us volumes about humanity, life, and the energy there of. Please join us one day.
I found peace in San Miguel Allende
“Just as we are responsible for what we eat, we are responsible for the visual beauty we create. When we contemplate an icon, we witness the immense love of God and humanity… an icon is a visual prayer.” –Father Henri Nouwem
For more information about Mary Jane Miller’s meditations in Mexico and Mary Jane Miller iconography and her wonderful ministry, visit San Miguel icons. You may find out about her books at and you can follow Mary Jane and on Facebook. Mary Jane’s wonderful workshops have been suspended due to Covid stay tuned at Sacred Icon Retreats.