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The daughter of the American Consul General to Seoul, Korea, Miller was trained as an artist in Japan under Shimada Bokusen and later attended Vassar College in the United States. Her collectors and dealers included a network of key female art patrons of the time, including Empress Nagako of Japan, Lou Henry Hoover, wife of President Herbert Hoover; Anne Morrow Lindbergh; and Pasadena art dealer Grace Nicholson. It was Nicholson's Pasadena residence, now the Pacific Asia Museum, where Miller perhaps felt most at home outside Japan.
Preferring to be called "Jack", Miller was unconventional in many ways. While most other artists in her genre trained in Western art schools and later travelled to Japan, Miller saw Japanese painting and print-making as her first mode of artistic expression. While most artists turned their work over to publishers, Miller carved and printed her own work as part of her devotion to Japanese-style art. Miller also distributed her prints utilizing a network of primarily female friends. And, contrary to society's norms of female behavior, Miller remained unmarried, went mountain climbing, dressed in masculine-style clothes and supported herself solely through the sale of her art.