Jay Keywood: Shining Like the Sun

  photograph by Jay Keywood

photograph by Jay Keywood

photographs made near the corner of 4th and Muhammad Ali (formerly Walnut St.)

On view November 25, 2018 - January 6, 2019

GALLERY TALK + RECEPTION: Sunday, January 6, 2019 4-6p.m.

 About the project:

Can we see people shining like the sun?

In 1958, Thomas Merton stood at the corner of 4th and Muhammad Ali (then called Walnut St.) and had a revelatory experience. In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Merton wrote:

“I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

Now, roughly 60 years later, Jay Keywood has looked at the people walking the streets surrounding this corner and invited us to also look. How will we see these total strangers in all their variety of glory, skepticism, struggle, and sweetness? Can we see the way Merton saw?:

“Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts, where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are.  If only we could see each other that way all the time.”

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a writer and Trappist monk at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. His writings include such classics as The Seven Storey MountainNew Seeds of Contemplation, and Zen and the Birds of Appetite. Merton is the author of more than seventy books that include poetry, personal journals, collections of letters, social criticism, and writings on peace, justice, and ecumenism. (bio via merton.org) Dec. 10, 2018 is the 50 year anniversary of Merton’s death. See other exhibits celebrating Merton’s legacy here - http://merton.org/50th/exhibits.aspx

Jay Keywood is a photographer, husband, father and coffee enthusiast. Check out an interview with Jay on photoblog.org.


LOOKING FOR THE SUN at Merton’s Corner by Susan Griffin Ward


Susan Griffin Ward spent a year looking for the sun, photographing and talking with the people met on the corner of Fourth and Muhammad Ali. Exhibited in Sojourn’s Gallery are some of those photographs and snippets of conversation that she compiled in a book, LOOKING FOR THE SUN at Merton’s Corner. To view and purchase her book, click here.