Reuniting people through lost gloves

At this time of year, misplaced gloves are a common issue, one that Jennifer Gooch, a graduate student in the School of Art, has been trying to remedy. For a recent art project, she created a website designed to reunite lost gloves with their owners. Titled “One Cold Hand?” the website contains over 170 pictures of abandoned gloves found around the city of Pittsburgh.

Gooch’s project has sparked national and global interest and has been covered by BBC, CNN, The New York Times, USA Today, and National Public Radio.

Gooch said the website is designed to allow abandoned objects to recover their usefulness. She sees her project as an interesting metaphor for the lives of people, many of whom are continually searching for the perfect soulmate.

Although Gooch recognizes that the “ultimate availability of connection is not always there” for people and their mates, it is a definite possibility when extending the metaphor to gloves— objects which are guaranteed to have one perfect match.

“It’s like an online dating service for long lost gloves,” wrote USA Today in a December article.

Although the website has not had instantaneous results, Gooch has already had seven successful reunions since the beginning of winter and looks to continue collecting gloves.

To facilitate the process, Gooch has installed drop-boxes at both the UC Information Desk and the College of Fine Arts art office, as well as at several Pittsburgh businesses.
Many students are excited at the prospect of Gooch’s project.

“It sounds like a great idea,” said Jessica Len, a junior business major who has visited the site and heard about it in the national news.
Len pointed out that “publicity and marketing are keys in making the website a success.”

To help promote awareness of her site, Gooch created stickers for glove finders to leave in the place of a recovered glove. The stickers have the project’s website address printed on them so that an owner returning to search for his or her glove will know exactly where to look.

Gooch gives owners their lost gloves after they send her a picture of its match. She pairs unclaimed gloves with similar members from her collection and donates them to charity.
Gooch intends for her project to not only restore lost items to their owners, but also to help create a deeper sense of community within Pittsburgh.

In some small way, she hopes that there will be a sense of “connection between the person who found the glove and the person who lost it.”

Her idea has been the motivation behind several sister programs which have been started in Denver and New York City. The over 125,000 visits to her website are further testimony to this concept’s popularity.
For Gooch, the main attribute of the project is its universal nature. As she put it, there are “no social or cultural boundaries with gloves.”

Additionally, Gooch attributes some of the project’s success to Turadg Aleahmad, a human-computer interaction Ph.D. student who helped design the website. According to Gooch, the help of someone from a different academic background helped to “give the project another dimension and a new freshness.”

Although Gooch’s role in the project will be ending in April when she gives a gallery show of her work, she believes that “One Cold Hand?” has created an “opportunity for benevolence” in an area which would have otherwise gone unnoticed.