Jean Sommer, a mixed media and fiber artist, was born to an intellectual and artistic working-class family and in London. She left school in 1941, at the age of 16, to pursue her interests. First she worked painting flowers on lampshades, and then she explored the field of architecture. She even spent time working as an assistant to Swiss fashion designer Mika. During the war she spent time working with refugee children, and it was at this point that she discovered her interest in education. After winning a scholarship to Goldsmiths College, she went on to become an elementary classroom teacher. Eventually she returned to Goldsmiths to pursue a diploma in art, which she used to teach art and English abroad in Istanbul, Turkey.
Sommer married while staying in Istanbul and after teaching for ten years she and her husband came to the United States. She earned her BS in visual arts from the University of Akron and her master’s degree from Cleveland State University. She taught for over ten years as a member of the adjunct faculty at CSU and still enjoys teaching studio art for local adult education programs.
Sommer states, “When I was fifteen I debated for the proposition ‘that art was more essential for life than science’, and won. Now, many, many years later, I know that when all is said and done, art does not mend the broken bodies or feed the empty stomachs; but, I also know that through the arts I have learned about the world and its peoples and that being an artist/art educator makes my life worth living”.