Pencil on drawing and glassine papers
Collection of the artist
Self-taught British artist Claudia Biçen made this portrait of Jenny Miller as part of a series of visual and audio portraits of hospice patients in the San Francisco Bay area. With these portraits, Biçen hopes to offer personal encounters with individuals who are facing death in order to address the cultural silence around death and dying. Biçen met Miller in June 2014, several months after Miller was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Reflecting on her life while sitting for the portrait, she told Biçen stories of encountering child abuse, living in orphanages, spending time in county jails, being housed in a hospital for the criminally insane, and living on the street. As she listened, Biçen learned that Miller’s own personal artistic practice was ultimately what had given her life meaning. The words on the layered glassine paper that make up Miller’s clothing tell her story in her own words.