Preserving the artist's heritage
Gil Kerlin
Interviewed in 2012
Sponsored by Drexel University
Katie Michella, Intern
Rob Kates, Videographer
Lydia Hunn, Advisor

I graduated from Columbia College in 1967 with a BA in History. My education after that was divided between teacher education and art education. For the last 8 years I have taught English as a Second Language.

Studio Art Education
New York Studio School,
New York City, 1968
National Academy School, New York City, 1973 -’74
Skowhegan School of Art, Skowhegan, Maine, Summers of 1965, 1968

An Overview of my Art Work
    The distinctive feature of my four decades of artmaking has been its variety. At one time or another I have tried my hand at every genre and media except performance. My personal art history reads like a series of investigations, projects and experiments. Here is a brief review of my artistic travels.

     I had a good foundation in drawing at the National Academy School and New York Studio School. Hoping to earn a living in art, I began working for a community newspaper called Our Town in New York City. I did a weekly cartoon strip and editorial illustrations in the late 1970s. My work appeared in other publications including the New Yorker NSSesame Street Magazine.
      I took up figurative sculpture in the early 1980s carving single figures representing familiar types of people. Later I made tableau with many figures. I did a series of works based on the idea of continuous narration (showing the same event at different moments in time). An example was “the Painting” in which an artist appears in six positions attacking his canvas. I showed this work at the Gallery Henoch in New York in the late 1980s. In 1987 I did an installation at the summer theater at Artpark in Lewiston, New York in which I added a frieze of figures to the facade of the theater.

     In the 1990’s I became interested in installation and did a series of works using forced perspective. Most notable of these was a “Perspectivarium” for a 1997 Fleisher Challenge show and another for the Suzanne H. Arnold Gallery at Lebenon Valley College in 2000.
     This was also the decade in which my wife Rebecca and I started the Gallery Joe in Philadelphia. Initially, the gallery focussed on sculpture. Within a few years, starting in 1993, the gallery was representing the work of artists active in public art including Stephen Robin, Diana Moore, Harry Roseman and Donna Dennis. By the late 90’s the gallery was participating in art fairs. A change of direction towards drawing occurred in 1999 with the first drawing show. The gallery has participated over the last 10 years in a period of rich ferment in the field of drawing as the art world came to recognize drawing as an independent field of endeavor apart from painting and sculpture.?

     In 2000 I quit making sculpture and returned to drawing. My last solo show was at Gallery Joe in 2001. I showed pen drawings made up of many hundreds of head studies.?

     For the next 7 years I ceased all artmaking and put my energy into teaching ESL. I found much to do in creating interesting materials for my students. I also began studying Mandarin Chinese, the language of many of my students. My fascination with Mandarin both, written and spoken, has only increased over the years. I have been to China three times and have taught in a high school there.?

     Artmaking resumed in 2007 when I noticed that there were many images of smiling women in the Google database of images. I collected nearly 6,000 of these images and made large prints and a book from my collection.?

     In 20010, while experimenting in Adobe Photoshop, I discovered how to make coleidoscopic images. Beautiful and complex patterns, I found, could be generated from of apparent randomness. Photographs of twisted and intertwined weeds, the jumble of fallen leaves or burst of magnolia blossoms were my raw materials. I tried making drawings of random and twisting lines and found that these too yielded surprising results when scanned into Photoshop. Anyone wishing to see more of this work should proceed to


    What have I learned in my travels? Artmaking is subject to strong and often conflicting pressures. At times I was carried along on the strength of an idea but found that I lost my way and had to make difficult decisions about which direction I would follow. Much time went by in negotiating these difficult periods. I often remember the direction of my teacher Estiban Vicente. He said, “Talent is the ability to see a problem together with the resourcefulness to find a solution.”  I would add, “Talent is the ability to see an opportunity together with the resourcefulness to make it real.”