Glove - Jay Sullivan
Glove
Photography/Mixed Media

 

Glove reconnected me with my estranged and long deceased father.

When I was five years old, my father suffered a bipolar episode and was sent to a psychiatric institution. It started him on a long descent from top IBM salesman to homeless on the streets of Brooklyn some 20 years later. Our relationship followed a similar trajectory; we spoke only twice in his final ten years.

I began Glove by photographing the childhood objects that I most associated with father.  Over time it became a journey into the emotional core of these objects, unearthing the feelings and memories associated with a black wallet, wingtip shoes, zippo lighter, baseball glove and many other long forgotten items.

Glove - Jay Sullivan
Glove - Jay Sullivan

The project was complicated by the fact that my father died indigent and I had very few items actually owned by him. I spent countless hours digging in thrift shops, at flea markets and on eBay looking for objects that connected him to me.

I searched period advertising and publications looking for clues as to what was the right watch or the right hair crème. His objects became my objects as I sported a class ring and carried a black wallet until they were sufficiently worn. I photographed the objects large and direct, seeking to dissolve the movie I had in my head of a weak, failed man and replace it with images that were strong and masculine.

Glove - Jay Sullivan
Glove - Jay Sullivan

I imagined my father lived with me. I started a journal that recorded the days of our imagined life together: at the beach, the coffee shop, the ball field. Our time together sparked real memories: cooking Christmas pancakes, fishing on a tiny pond, trips to Yankee stadium. The more images I created the more I remembered and the more I wanted to be his son again.

Glove - Jay Sullivan

I began Glove seeking to reconnect with my father and found something much deeper. I have found the father I always wanted and in many ways, always had.