Local artist invites gallery patrons to escape their mental locks

In Art, Artist Profile, Arts & Entertainment, Lifestyle
Local artist Lucas Murgida uses locksmith tools to allow entry into the installation in the gallery.

Local artist Lucas Murgida  held various jobs growing up. He went from being a busboy, to yoga instructor, to working behind the scenes on adult film sets. His more recent job was as a locksmith.

Murgida referred to his varied work as “research.” In his locksmithing work, he started to notice a trend with all of his clients.

“What I found when I would go to help someone on a (locksmithing) job, I was often helping a person that was panicking or freaking out for some reason,” Murgida said.

He started to ask himself, “Why?”

Murgida discovered that the people he was helping were being kept from a place that made them feel safe.

His new interactive installment entitled “None of this is Real,” is located at the front of the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. It’s opening reception was held on Oct. 6.

Simple drywall and two-by-fours make up a room that uses the gallery’s front window space as the fourth wall. The room is reminiscent of a fishbowl and allows the public to spectate the interactive art installment, where gallerygoers are given the task of escaping a room they have just broken in to.

Patrons of the gallery are invited to bring their own key to the gallery. The key is then melted down into another key that fits a smaller room that Murgida built and called a “wardrobe.”

John Spiak, the gallery’s art director and chief curator looks forward to the new phase of Murgida’s work.

“I’m excited to see what the wardrobe is like and the way people will engage with it. With the last project, the way people engaged with it was really fascinating. High school students would keep coming back and keep bringing more friends so they can see them locked in the room,” Spiak said.

In Murgida’s previous installation, participants were taught how to get through a door using a drill to break the lock. Once they were in the room, they were locked in and participants were presented with a table and a set of keys. Participants were led to believe one of the keys unlocked the door, but the real exit was on the door’s left side.

Viewers and participants of the activity didn’t realize the locked door was an illusion. There were fake hinges visible on one side, but the working hinges were on the other side of the door, not visible to participants. With a slight push on the wall to the left of the door handle, the door opened without the need for a key.

Murgida referred to his art installments as “classes.” Participants have an opportunity to learn something hands on. In the process they learn a technical skill and may even learn something about themselves.

“There is always a mechanical lesson in each class, in this case, how to pick a lock. Then behind that mechanical lesson, each one has a conceptual motif going too,” Murgida said.

After doing a few demonstrations picking locks, Murgida said his classes became less about picking a lock and more of a mental learning experience for participants.

“What I realized is that most people don’t have a good understanding of how their physical space and also their mental spaces affect the way that they create safety for themselves,” Murgida said.

In every exhibit, Murgida hopes to nurture a learning opportunity into the experience. In the current exhibit, using the key as a medium has become a symbol of people’s ever changing mental state.

“I really broadened my definition of keys away from just a piece of metal to anything that allows a person to exit one space and enter another space. Whether it’s a mental space or it’s a physical space,” Murgida said.

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