Mimi was born in Saigon, Vietnam and was forced to flee in April 1975 on the last flight out of her war-torn homeland. She moved to the US with her mother, cousin, and three younger brothers, living first in a refugee camp in San Diego before moving to Minnesota where her family was sponsored by a Catholic Church. Transitioning to the US was challenging and she reflects that everything—the cars, the houses, and the landscapes—appeared very big in comparison to the country of her childhood. Without “English as a Second Language” classes in school, she mostly taught herself English by watching American TV shows, like The Brady Bunch, Father Knows Best, and I Love Lucy. She went on to study Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota and work as a Project Engineer at 3M.
Despite her penchant for math and science, art always played a part in Mimi’s life. In her formative years, she watched her mother sew, draw, and write calligraphy and, in high school and college, she took various painting electives. However, as an immigrant, Mimi was never encouraged to pursue art, but was presented with two career options: engineer or doctor. It wasn’t until she moved to Paris with her husband from 1990 to 1992 that she was really able to explore her passion for visual expression. She visited the Louvre almost daily and took various drawing and painting classes. Being able to ask herself “Who am I?” and “What do I like?” was a privilege she had not been afforded as a teenager growing up on welfare and looking after her younger siblings when her single mother was at work.
Mimi and her husband moved eight times within 25 years, including domestic moves to California, Ohio, and Illinois, as well as international moves to France and Switzerland. When her husband, two sons, and daughter moved to Switzerland in 2006, Mimi continued painting. She was first exposed to mosaics on a weekend trip to Barcelona where she was inspired by the impressive works of Antoni Gaudí and her first-ever glass cutting workshop. Mimi started working on ceramic mosaics in Switzerland thereafter.
When she and her family moved back to Minnesota, Mimi joined the Minnesota Mosaic Guild and began working on glass mosaics. Using a variety of techniques, her work combines vibrant colors and intricately cut pieces to create a sense of movement. She draws on inspiration from her life—often important role models, like her mother, or connections to her homeland. For Mimi, mosaics are a form of expression and catharsis.
To learn more about Mimi or her works, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org