Jenny Irene Miller (Wiagañmiu)

Inupiaq (Kingikmuit)

Born 1988, Nome, Alaska / Inupiaq name for Nome: Sitŋasuaq

Jenny Irene Miller, Inupiaq, is originally from Nome, Alaska. Jenny's Inupiaq name is Wiagañmiu and her maternal family roots originate from the village of Kiŋigin, Alaska. Storytelling grounds Jenny's work. She explores the intersections of her Inupiaq identity and queerness by bringing forward stories that are personal, familial, and community derived. This allows her to further understand her knowledge of self, place, and ways of knowing that have been instilled in her by her family, culture, and experiences. Her work reframes and describes the past, present, and future of her indigeneity and queerness, and illustrates her refusal of the settler state and its narratives about her and her ancestors. Jenny primarily employs lens-based mediums, both photography and video. More recently, she has been developing relationships with new materials and mediums of expression — textile, natural materials, and sculpture. She is currently an MFA Photography student at the University of New Mexico on Sandia Pueblo land. Jenny also teaches an undergraduate Introduction to Photography course as a teaching assistant at UNM. During her MFA program she is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, otherwise she's based on Dena'ina land in Anchorage, Alaska.

"Legs (self-portrait)" 2020, made on Pueblo of Sandia lands aka Albuquerque, New Mexico. Using the photographic medium, I've directed my focus on myself. I've been thinking about queerness. What does it mean to be feminine? What does it mean to be masculine? What about a little bit of both? Who gets to decide? “Legs (self-portrait)” is made in an intimate space that protects identifying features of who I am as a queer and Inupiaq person and provides minimal information to the viewer. “Legs (self-portrait”) withholds details about my gender, facial features, and other personal identifiers. This piece pokes fun of several pervasive standards of mainstream American culture, such as cleanliness and beauty, the gender binary, and arbitrary rules around who should and should not shave their legs. “Legs (self-portrait)” ultimately removes the power from the viewer’s gaze and places that power back into the hands of the artist by not providing full access to the viewer. There is tension and humor in the photograph. Is the subject getting in or out of the tub? Who is behind the shower curtain? And does that even matter?