The Lake Chapala Projects

Chapala postcard front_small

My name is Catherine Armbrust— I am a mixed media/assemblage artist who works with found objects, knitting/crocheting, and more.  After receiving my MFA from the University of Missouri in December 2012, I was invited to be the first artist-in-residence at 360 Xochi Quetzal in Chapala, Mexico.  While in Chapala I had hoped to produce a series of outdoor installations, but realized that a month was not enough time to plan and achieve such a large-scale goal.  With the encouragement of fellow artist and Chapala resident Deborah Kruger, I plan to return to Mexico in September 2014  to produce what I call The Lake Chapala Projects.

The town of Chapala is approximately 45 minutes outside of Guadalajara and sits on the shore of Lake Chapala—Mexico’s largest lake.  The lake is an important resource for the state of Jalisco—providing income for fishermen, fresh water for drinking and irrigating crops, and a revenue base for enormous amounts of weekend tourism.  Though a major source of life, the lake is in jeopardy for various political and environmental reasons and is a constant source of debate in the region.  According to, “Eleven million people live in the [Chapala] catchment area (about 10 % of the total population of México), and the potential for conflict over regional water resources is high due to their overexploitation… About 81 % of the lake’s catchment area is agricultural, and the area irrigated has quintupled over the last 50 years.”  Thus the lake is the essence of the area, acting simultaneously as a symbol of both vitality and loss.

The Lake Chapala Projects are a series of works dedicated to the lake—and in the grander scheme, to water in general.  Through installations and performances I will simultaneously celebrate the gift of life and express my concerns over its availability.  The issues related to Chapala are not isolated there—though the project will be directly connected to that site, accessibility to fresh water is a global concern.  As stewards of the earth, humans need to be conscious of our relationship to water for the present and the future.

These works are not only important to me, but will hopefully become meaningful to the people living in the region as well.  They are the ones most dependent on and affected by the lake.  I hope to respectfully work with the area and the community, creating an awareness of the issues surrounding the lake and perhaps even encouraging folks to get active in support of the lake.

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