Jinny Ly Headshot

Jinny Ly

Jinny Ly is a Teochew-American fiber artist and illustrator, born and raised in Oakland, California. She spent most of her time in Oakland’s Chinatown where her refugee family and other Boat People planted roots after fleeing the Vietnam War. Growing up, she picked up domestic arts from her matriarchal figures -- learning crochet from Great Grandma, knitting from Grandma, and embroidery from Mom. Curious and eager to learn, Jinny went on to study illustrations and textile art at San Jose State University (San Jose, California) and received her B.A. in Studio Art in 2009. She studied under international fiber artist, Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, who remains an inspiration and mentor to this day. For Jinny, working with textiles transcends time -- allowing her to connect with her ancestors, their boat stories, inspiration, and insight. She'll be heading to Dublin, Ireland in the autumn of 2020 to pursue her Masters in Fine Arts at Dublin's National College of Art and Design.

Mercy - Jinny Ly


Mercy, 2019
Needle felted wool, hand-carved driftwood
8 x 5 x 15cm

“Mom's boat, with Grandma, Grandpa, and her two little brothers (my uncles), was caught in a whirlpool at sea. While everyone was below deck, praying for the Goddess of Mercy (Guan Yin) to spare their lives, Mom peeked outside and witnessed a whale tail pushing the vessel out of the whirlpool. She ran below and told everyone what was happening but by the time they went up, the ship was out of danger.

I had a hard time believing this story when I was a child, but as I grew up I realized that anything is possible...” -- Jinny Ly

Featured in Thank You No Thank You

Beached - Jinny Ly


Beached, 2019
Cold porcelain, hand-plied vintage silk thread, cotton/silk, needle felted wool
11 x 12 x 24cm

“Before Mom and her family were able to step foot on land, they had to go through the ocean. Their boat became stranded on a rock and everyone had to jump ship and swim to shore. First one in the water was Grandpa. Then Grandma threw the two boys, my uncles, ages 3 and 4 at the time. Shortly after, Mom and Grandma joined them and made it to shore.” -- Jinny Ly

Featured in Thank You No Thank You

Survival - Jinny Ly


Survival, 2019
Pine needle, cotton/silk, needle felted wool base, vintage ceramic light bulb socket
9 x 9 x 16cm

“Even crammed on an island with 40,000 other people, there was still daily life. Temples, schools, shops, and a post office were built to maintain a standard of living. Mom told me how she was popular with the guys and how they would do tasks for her like stand in line for food. According to her, guys competed for her attention because she was one of the most beautiful girls in the refugee camp. A girl has to do what a girl has to do to survive.” -- Jinny Ly

Featured in Thank You No Thank You