Jean Sosin, Glass Collector
Jean Sosin, Detroit glass afficionado extraordinaire died recently at age 87. Sosin lived a rich and full life. She was the fourth of five children of Dora and Meyer Eisenberg, immigrants from Russia. In 1944 she married Hilbert Sosin. They were the parents of three children, Neil, Debra and Gayle. Detroit was home for 83 of her 87 years. The family, which included seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, was always important to her. Four years ago she moved to Chicago to be near Gayle. Fairly rapidly, however, the extent of her deepening dementia became clear to to her family.
Gayle says,“My mother had a way of touching people. She was generous and engaging. She was also a ‘tough cookie’” She experienced illness throughout her life. She was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis when she was 36 years old. She had two bouts of breast cancer, many surgeries, and other illnesses. All of this notwithstanding, she lived a rich full life, accomplished a great deal and touched many people for good. She and my father helped to found the Myasthenia Gravis Association over 40 years ago, when they realized there was little support and education for newly diagnosed individuals.”
Jean Sosin got into studio glass when it was in its infancy. Nine years after the first glass workshop in Toledo, the Sosins purchased their first work in glass, a yellow vessel by Richard Ritter. Sosin became passionate about contemporary glass art. She was a self-taught expert and, as a collector, was instrumental in the development of the studio glass movement in the United States. She shared this passion with her husband, Hilbert. They were truly partners. The couple helped found the national glass collector’s organization The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass. Along with Hilbert they encouraged the growth & development of young, new glass artists, urging and supporting them to “reach the next artistic level.” The Jean and Hilbert Sosin Collection of Papers and Catalogs is now at the Smithsonian. Some of their glass sculpture was donated to the Detroit Institute of Arts. They helped found the month long celebration of art glass known as Michigan Glass Month. Sosin remained active with Michigan Glass month for years.
After Hilbert’s death in 1993, Sosin continued to be involved in the art glass movement. She traveled, lectured, and was always anxious to meet a new artists and broaden her knowledge of glass. Sosin continued to open her home and share her collection and her insights with others. She was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the glass movement. After all she had practically been there at the beginning. She knew the artists, and understood the techniques they used. As collectors, the Sosins, had over the years, nurtured countless glass artists. In the process they assembled a collection that chronicles the history of contemporary glass art. Jean Sosin was recognized with a number of awards and mentioned in books about studio art glass. She was particularly proud of the entry about her contributions in the book “Jewish Women in the Arts.”
Jean Sosin died on December 17, in Glenview, IllinoisSources:
Eulogy by Debra Sosin
Remarks by Gayle Sosin Justman
To read more about Jean Sosin read Glass Focus, December/January 2003