INTERVIEW WITH ZAHAVA SHEREZ:  Visiting Sculptor and Mixed Media Artist


(C) Anna Kuperberg 2004415-401-0806Zahava Sherez is one of a growing number of visiting artists who come to Lake Chapala for a personal residency and then fall in love and return over and over. -dek



You work in sculpture and mixed media. Tell us more about your materials and how you use them.

img3For the last 30 years I’ve worked as a carver with clay and stone.  I always approach a medium searching for new ways of reinventing it challenging both the medium and myself. In recent years I began adding mixed media and masonry colorants to my clay sculpture after learning about Clay Printing (a technique developed by Mitch Lyons).  I begin with a clayprint which I lift onto a synthetic texturized fabric, mount  on wood and add layers of mixed media. It’s a long and laborious process but it gives me the results I desire and a new way of expressing myself.

You have lived and worked in many countries. How has this influenced your work?

img1Our life journeys  are complex and have within them the positive and the negative, which deeply influence us. On one hand living in several cultures and countries (Argentina and Israel) has profoundly enriched me; hower, experiences of immigration, oppression, and war have scarred me. Over time, in searching for my truth and identity, I have integrated and embraced all of my parts. After years of feeling like an outsider and minority, I now consider myself a citizen of the world.  Our human experiences do not divide us (only labels do that) but unite us regardless of color, religion, or nationality.  These are recurring themes in my work.

NEW4You have had four personal residencies in Chapala. What keeps bringing you back?

I find Chapala, the culture, the town, the lake, and the entire area, to be a peaceful and inspiring haven. As soon as I drive from the airport up towards the lake and over the mountains, I begin to feel this special energy. The times I’ve spent in Chapala have enriched me physically, emotionally, mentally and creatively. Some of my best ideas have come to me during these residencies.

What does a typical studio day look like for you when you are here? What else do you enjoy doing in Chapala?

NEW7I am not a structured artist in the sense that I allow the flow to carry me, especially when I am in Chapala. I take plenty of time for contemplation, meditation, and long walks along the lake. I always take my iPad so I can take notes, photos, and draw whenever an idea or an image inspires me. Then, several days a week I work at the studio to further explore and develop them. I enjoy taking the bus into neighboring pueblos. The ride itself is an uplifting experience for me – I love how people relate to each other in an open and friendly way. I’ve made great friends in the area. We go to concerts, art openings, and eat out. There is a never-ending list of fabulous places to eat.


What were you working on during this most recent residency?

I have a very busy life back home. I teach almost everyday and I spend as much time in my studio as I possibly can. I’m quite involved in the San Francisco Bay Area art scene, and have a very rich family and social life. When new ideas begin to tickle my creative juices, I don’t always have the time to explore and expand them the way I would like. My residency this past July 2106 was all about expanding my ideas. I brought all materials I needed to work on these ideas. The time I spent in the studio in Chapala was extremely successful and rewarding. I returned to my home studio in Oakland, CA ready to work, having solved many technical problems during my month at the residency.

Tell us about your art school and career in California.

NEW 8About 30 years ago I decided to quit the corporate/business world. I wanted to be, live, and make art. I began teaching at various institutions. Over time, as my name and teaching methods became known, I was able to start my own school. I teach adults and seniors in my studio in Oakland, CA, I teach in upscale senior facilities and also at homeless seniors through Alameda County. I also teach privately in my studio or the artist’s. I taught stone carving at Pixar Animation Studios for 8 years and occasionally I’m invited to teach in other countries including workshops in stone carving, clay sculpture, mixed media, clay printing, and the business of art.  I primarily show my artwork in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I have also shown in New York, Corsica and most recently Paris. That was an amazing experience, to say the least.

NEW 6What advice do you have for other artists who are considering a personal residency in Mexico?

The only place I’ve spent time in Mexico is in and around Lake Chapala. I’ve had people back home worry about the dangers of going to Mexico. The truth is that I can’t remember feeling safer anyplace else. I’m a single woman and I walk around all over town and neighboring towns, feeling completely safe.  Since the US currency is very strong compared to the Mexican peso it is extremely affordable to treat yourself to massages, spas, facials, pedicures, acupuncture, eating out, luxuries that I have to think twice about back home.  I’ve found a doctor, a homeopath, and a masseuse – all excellent!  My advice is enjoy every moment, combine your creative goals with slowing down, enjoy the area and its people, pamper yourself and relax. The residency program is run very smoothly. Cobra and her team are friendly, available, and efficient. The casitas are very well maintained and equipped. The Middle Casita, where I usually stay, is very spacious with a large open live/work studio that is full of light and centrally located.

Where can we see more of your work?

You can view more of my work on my website:  Zahavasherez



Everyone comes to the residency for different reasons. For me it was a
time to reflect upon this whirlwind year. Like many, I lead a hectic life
and run from one exhibition to the next with little time for
contemplation. Even if I hadn’t made a single thing during my residency,
I would have been satisfied because what I really needed was to slow
down and think about what direction my work might take. I reveled in
the environment – the lake and mountains – as well as two trips, one to
see the Monarch butterflies and the other to a fiesta in an indigenous
village with my fellow artists. I left the residency refreshed, with new friends and purpose!

Jennifer Angus, Installation Artist
“Applying for the free Winter residency of Xochi Quetzal was the start of many positive transformations. The silence I found for myself during the residency, allowed me not only to write the best last chapter I can write at this stage of my evolution, it also granted me a most sought-after introspection moment during which I read my dreams and studied ancient Eastern writings. The serenity of the lake and presence of other artists inspired me to get mentally ready and organized for my future as a novelist. I am particularly fond of spending the holidays abroad with ‘strangers’. It always infuses me with these wild insights and whims. Our group was just lovely, the artists one by one very interesting. Cobra and Christian are warm and graceful hosts who made life easy. All in all, Xochi Quetzal was a weighty meditation, a poetic experience that carried me through the rest of Mexico in newness and will resonate long after.”
Heidi Souffriau, Writer
“I was partly inspired to apply for the Xochi Quetzal residency by The Retro Cocktail Hour — a popular Saturday night radio show on Kansas Public Radio 91.5 that features exotica music (a form of tropical jazz).  My hope was for the palm trees,  lakeside sunrises, and culture of Chapala & Mexico at large to inform my creative process.  These elements did precisely that, and the generous hospitality of Cobra & her partner Christian provided me with a cozy composing environment.”
Note from Staff: Listen to the music created during Andrew’s residency -Winter 2016
Andrew Morgan, Composer, Musician

Chapala is a safe, spiritually charged, beautiful place. Wild horses run through town.  It’s a place where you greet strangers on the street.

I walked along the lake in meditation a great deal. I hiked the looming cerro overlooking town. I biked all over the countryside. I wrote, documented, created composed soundscapes utilizing field recordings, and built small maquette light sculptures based on my experiences. I attended traditional temazcals, and sat alone in cathedrals.

It was pivotal for me in a spiritual sense more than a career advancing experience. I’m very grateful for it, and Deborah Kruger is a wonderful advocate to keep in contact with. I truly recommend the residency.

Justin R. Lytle, Sound Artist & Sculptor

My residency at 360 Xochi Quetzal in summer 2015 was both restorative and productive.  I was inspired by the beautiful studio and the surrounding Chapala  / Jalisco region.  The setting worked well for me in terms of inspiring and completing new work, and learning the history and customs of the area.  The flexible residency requirements allowed an easy engagement with other residents, and encouraged me to participate in Chapala and Guadalajara communities.  There are many contemporary art venues in Guadalajara, which are an easy bus ride from Chapala.

Michael Pribich, Sculptor

“Not only was this residency situated in one of the most beautifully mystical, culturally resonant, and stimulating settings imaginable, it also managed to be both peaceful and galvanizing: the perfect combination for immersing oneself in a creative project without hesitation or distraction. Deborah and Christian’s home was an oasis. One of my fellow residents remarked to me that “this place has amazing energy for getting work done,” and I wholeheartedly agree: the atmosphere seemed to hum with a low-key, generative productivity, one that helped me get closer than I’d been in many months to actually fully realizing and finishing a long story. I wish I was still there among the bougainvillea, the jade vines, the dogs and the pelicans.”

Suzanne K. Rivecca, Author

Chapala has become my home away from home. The Xochi Quetztal residency is run efficiently. Cobra and her team are friendly, accessible, and professional. My stay in Chapala is enhanced by the personal relationships I have developed with several of the team members. The casita I stay in is very well maintained and fully equipped. The studio area is large and ready for me to engage in art as soon as I arrive.  The weather is always fantastic. The lake, the town(s), the life, the restaurants, the view, the very friendly local people all call me back again and again. I love it!

Zahava Sherez, Sculptor

“This was the most work I’ve ever done in a single month in my life. I will never forget what an incredible experience this was and I thank you for honoring me with a residency at 360 Xochi Quetzal. The reference material I gathered throughout the trip to Chapala, Mexico is going to fuel my work for years to come. Thank you for everything! You run an incredible residency program!!!”

Santiago Galeas, Painter