Matthew Gerlick: visual arts teacher and professional hat maker



By Sofia Deleon, Talon Staff Reporter

As the bell rings, students take their seats to await Matthew Gerlick’s new lesson in a day of visual arts. “I like to teach my classes in a way where students bring their ideas to their art work. I just help them with the tools to make their art happen and bring inquiry and perspectives to their attention,” Gerlick says. Although this is a normal routine for the students and for Gerlick, the students do not realize that Matthew Gerlick is more than just a visual arts teacher. Within Gerlick’s teacher- shell is a creature of creativity.

During Visual 2-D art design, Gerlick shows the class techniques for specific designs, such as cross hatching and mediums, such as charcoal and chalk that will give their artwork a two-point perspective. Each student keeps a sketchbook to work in and perfect these techniques. Senior Lani Euwer has Gerlick for Visual 2-D art design. “It’s not what I was expecting in the class,” Euwer explains. “Normally I would think it’s a laid-back class, but you need to work hard. Gerlick would like his students to be passionate about their art, and outside of the classroom, he’s a cool person.”

Aside from teaching his visual arts classes every other day, Gerlick occasionally boosts his creativity by designing and making hats. “I made my first hat by myself in college out of raw wool, where I felted a beanie-style hat,” Gerlick said. “It was brown and natty, and when I wore it out,  people thought I had matted dreadlocks.” Students may wonder how Gerlick started his hat-making hobby. “I moved to San Francisco when I was 25 and signed up for a millinery (hat making) class at San Francisco City College,” he explains. “It was taught by a clothing designer named Loretta Warner.  I was the only young person there and I was surrounded by all these 50 and 60-year-old women and men of color who knew all about sewing, and I gleaned information from all of them.  This was one of many free classes offered by the college.”

Rather than keeping this hat skill to himself, Gerlick teaches millinery after school at Wy’east Middle School on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. He hopes for a craft lab next year at HRV that will allow him to teach hat making if enough students show an interest in it. This would allow students to use the right side of their brain to come up with awesome hats, whether it be a completely new style of hat or their own amazing design on a beanie.

An hour and a half later, class is over and Gerlick is finished teaching for the day. The students leave the class with a new lesson fresh in their minds. What they hopefully know is that Matthew Gerlick has an awesome hobby outside of the classroom that may one day allow students to pour out their creativity into a hat of wonder.

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