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Laband opens new installation critiquing Catholic Church

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The installation by Trina McKillen at the Lisa Sette Gallery.

Update 1/16/19 6:02 p.m.: This article has been updated. It originally stated that the photo above is the Laband Art Gallery. It is, in fact, Lisa Sette Gallery.

The Laband Art Gallery opens its new installation “Confess” this week, which grapples with the relevant and painful sexual abuse committed by the Catholic Church. Artist Trina McKillen created a multi-part piece to express her outrage, anger and grief concerning the Catholic Church, all while giving visibility to its victims.

The gallery has transformed since its Judy Dater exhibit last semester: red curtains drape the walls and a large clear box stands tall in the center of the room. This box, upon closer inspection, is a full size, entirely see-through confession booth. On the left side sits a simplistic yet powerful white chair; on the right side is a kneeler facing the chair. The title of this sculpture is “Bless Me Child for I Have Sinned” (2010-18).

If it is not clear from the centerpiece of “Confess,” McKillen attempts with her work to deliver a cathartic, visualized response to the reports of molestation and cover-up coming out of the Catholic Church.

Behind “Bless Me Child” are dozens of First Communion dresses and altar boy vestments. The dozens of vintage uniforms depict the hidden stories of the children of the Catholic Church who were the victims of abusive adults. The bodiless clothing alludes to the horrors these children faced, as well as the ability of the Catholic Church to hide them.

McKillen “felt compelled to make something that would make the children visible,” she told the Lisa Sette Gallery, which both represents her and displays her work. “I had the idea in my head of what would God do if He came down and saw this,” she said, “and then the glass confessional just came to me. I thought, ‘I’m going to make the [Catholic] Church kneel in front of the child.’”

John T. Sebastian, LMU vice president for mission and ministry, said, “While the artist confronts a painful and troubling reality within the [Catholic] Church, our hope is that this exhibition will open the door to discussion and deep reflection.”

“Confess”  is shown in partnership with the Irish Studies Program in LMU’s Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts and the Dean’s Office in the College of Communication and Fine Arts. There will be a conversation with the artist in the Murphy Recital Hall from 5:00-6:00 p.m. on Saturday, followed by the installation’s opening reception in Laband from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

The installation will be on display from January 19 to March 23 in the Laband Art Gallery.

This is the opinion of Jacob Cornblatt, a sophomore film production major from Gaithersburg, Maryland. Tweet comments to @JacobCornblatt or email comments to

Jacob Cornblatt is a junior film, television, and media studies major who watches a movie every day. He enjoys laying in a hammock under a palm tree, longing for the suffocating humidity of Gaithersburg, MD.

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