A native of Oklahoma, Jerry McMillan moved west in 1958 with childhood friends Ed Ruscha and Joe Goode. The three of them (and others) lived together while attending Chouinard Art Institute in Southern California. McMillan quickly became a key figure in the development of photo-sculpture and, in fact, his folded photo-box entitled "Patty as Container" 1963, is considered the first photo-sculpture. Walter Hopps organized McMillan's first solo exhibition at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1966, and in 1970, his work was included in the seminal exhibition, "Photography into Sculpture" at MOMA, curated by Peter Bunnell.

In addition to this artistic practice, McMillan revolutionized the art of photographing artists for exhibition announcements, magazine ads and other conceptual applications. His photograph of Ed Ruscha in bed with two women in 1967 became an iconic ad in Artforum with the caption, "Ed Ruscha Says Goodbye to College Joys," and his photo of Judy Chicago in a boxing ring in 1970 was his personification of her toughness in the midst of a male-dominated art scene. These images were included in an exhibition, "Jerry McMillan: The Artist's Image" at Craig Krull Gallery in 2011 and demonstrated McMillan's key role in creating an artist's persona and shaping how they were perceived. McMillan's photo archives in this genre are now housed at the Getty Research Institute.

The current exhibition continues McMillan's interest in the fundamental properties of photography. While the new work appears to be paper sculpture or even trompe l'oeil, it actually manifests what McMillan calls "the invisible space" of photography. These works are not intended to be considered photographs of another object, or even contain subject matter. In flattening the existing three-dimensional space to two-dimensional, McMillan believes that "the camera is used to reduce the space only; there is no subject matter except space - the camera has no other function, except to add its own particular kind of unique space to this already abstract spatial problem."

A retrospective of Jerry McMillan's work was presented at Cal State Northridge during Pacific Standard Time in 2012.