Jill Miller is an art practitioner and professor who works collaboratively with communities and individuals. Her recent art work explores motherhood through a lens of feminism and performance, and her work takes shape across many forms and disciplines. In the past, she searched for Bigfoot in the Sierra Nevada, inserted herself into the art historical work of John Baldessari, and became a private investigator who performed surveillance on art collectors. Her largest scale community engagement project, The Milk Truck, reached tens of thousands of people around the world via social media and publications. Born in Illinois, she received her MFA in from University of California, Los Angeles and her BA from University of California, Berkeley, in English. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, and collected in public institutions worldwide including CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo in Madrid and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. 

Jill currently teaches at UC Berkeley, Stanford University, and the San Francisco Art Institute. She also received an Individual Engagement Grant from the Wikimedia Foundation and runs the socially-engaged project, Women of Wikipedia (WOW!) Editing Group that empowers high school-aged women to close the gender gap by researching and editing Wikipedia articles.

See more projects at: www.jillmiller.net

the artist

a project by jill miller


Artist, professor, personal chauffeur to two wild and crazy guys.

this project

A visual example of the auditory contribution this child made to his family log.

24 Hour Family Portraits are conceptual in nature. For one day, participants keep a log of the acoustic events in the family atmosphere: squeaks, yawps, bellows and bawls, and any significant auditory event in between. (Note: all sounds are fair game - joyful, angry, romantic, and so on.) The artist creates a snapshot of the family informed by their phonic events in a 24 hour period. No photographs or other visual cues to determine the portrait, only the tallies of each person’s shouting contribution to the family soundscape. 

The artist consults the shouting log and assigns each family member a color. Each individual is represented as a series of spheres depicting that person’s audible outbursts. Louder and longer shouts result in large balls, while minor exclamations are represented by smaller balls. The orb clusters are playfully piled in front of a traditional portrait backdrop and then photographed. (It’s like going to a portrait studio without having to do your hair.) 

Historically, portrait painters were charged with conveying the very life-force of the sitter by means of a realistic depiction of the individual. Using sound as the foundation for these images, the work playfully uproots traditional portraiture’s focus on a subject’s visual form and reveals not just the emotional essence of each individual sitter but the collective dynamics of the entire family. The result is a humorous photograph that documents a family’s collective, 24-hour soundscape.