The Confessional is an installation meant to provoke reflection on the radical nature of forgiveness. The idea was born through artist Carole Baker’s struggle to forgive someone after she felt deeply wounded. John 8:1-11 took on new significance as she saw for the first time the clever brilliance of Christ’s response to those who were testing him. Rather than condemning or condoning the adulterous woman or her accusers, Christ gives them all an opportunity to reflect on their own sin and recognize the grace that God has shown each of them.
The stones that would have been used to execute judgment become a witness to God’s mercy. Christ turns to the woman, after her accusers have left her untouched, dismisses her without condemnation, but adds: go and stop sinning.
This installation contains two parts. The first part is a large 10 x 12 freestanding room which viewers enter. Inside the crate-like shell is a pristine surround of mirror. In the center of the space is a large pile of stones which viewers must walk around. The interplay of stones, bodies, and the inscription Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone leads viewers to reflect on their own stories of sin, confession, and forgiveness.
The second portion of the installation includes the simple placement of a chair, basin, and pitcher of water. These objects are meant to evoke the imagery of Christ washing the disciples feet and the subsequent Christian practice of foot-washing as a remembrance and reenactment of Christ’s act of humility and divine mercy.
Carole Baker is a visual artist and doctoral candidate in theology at Duke Divinity School. She attends St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Durham, North Carolina, where she is involved in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program.