Having developed an opposable thumb, which gave him enormous competitive advantages over other creatures, early man found that he might like to use it to make something to keep his precious digits from snapping off in the cold.

Thus, gloves, the development of which rivals the combination of beef and onions among the major advances of the species.

We moderns take gloves too much for granted, something we may be reminded of only when we lose one in a bitter chill or try to make that fourth snowball barehanded.

But if you spend much time looking in road gutters while walking or driving, you might come to the conclusion that, every few days or so, gloves rain out of some great tradesmen’s van in the sky.

Rawhide work gloves, wool gloves, fancy leather gloves with deluxe fur linings, Gore-Tex mittens — they’re everywhere, it seems.

Photographer Sandy Johanson has taken notice.

Here’s what Johanson has to say about her subject:

I have been collecting and photographing gloves for 10 years. I started out shooting them with my pinhole camera and now am shooting them digitally.

I guess my fascination with them has a lot to do with them being lost and then found. I try to imagine the person that lost them, and what they did. Looking for evidence in what the glove is made of, how it has worn, any residue it may have on it.

We all have had favorite gloves, they conform to our hands over time and give us comfort with their fit. It’s upsetting to lose a favorite glove, we always hold on to the orphan, certain its mate will turn up somewhere, but it never does.

The pinhole gloves are hand-colored and altered in other ways, giving some of them an unreal, animated look. The digital gloves are very sharp and people have touched them, thinking they were real.

On the street the gloves look so sad and forgotten, in the photographs they are restored, given life, and seem hopeful.

Liz & Bob McKay, proprietors of the McKay Gallery, are former students and eternal devotees of Johanson, who taught them both at Brookdale Community College. They’re hosting an exhibition of Johanson’s glovework at their Monmouth Street space.

The opening reception is Friday from 7 to 10p, and it’s open to the public. The show will run from September 14th thru October 18th. Gallery hours are 1 to 7p Wednesdays and Thursdays, or by appointment.

McKay Imaging
Photography Studio and Gallery
12 Monmouth Street, second floor

Email this story