CREATE Community Studios grew out of a common goal with expressive arts therapists in the Capital Region. Heather Hutchison & Aili Lopez began working together on several mutual projects including the idea of creating a centralized location for Capital Region residents to gain the benefits of the expressive arts. As our idea grew over the years, Camille Grec & Julie Lewis joined the team as co-founders of CREATE in 2016. We formed as a 501c3 nonprofit corporation in 2017 and opened our 2 Community Studios in Schenectady and Saratoga, offering expressive arts workshops, classes and open studio time. Charlotte Mack joined our team in the summer of 2017 and quickly became our Operations Coordinator. We've added dozens of dedicated volunteers & instructors who help us with events, workshops and open studios.

Aili & Julie run our Saratoga Studio, while Heather & Charlotte run our Schenectady studio.

C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit dedicated to providing a space where the benefits of art-making impact both the individual and the community as a whole. We offer low-cost art workshops and groups, community wellness activities, and open studios to promote art-making and the creative process as a vehicle for personal growth, communication, and social change. We believe that the beneficial experience of art-making should be affordable and accessible to everyoneOur goal is to use expressive arts as an equalizer across cultural and economic barriers, and for participants to learn how to use art as an expressive medium to increase their general well-being. We focus on the process of the art making, not the product. Unlike other art studios, our expectations are not rooted in a product or an image. We focus on the evolution of a piece and encourage conversation about its meaning. 

The Operations of C.R.E.A.T.E


Heather Hutchison, MA, ATR-BC, LCAT

Heather Hutchison is a NYS Licensed Creative Arts Therapist and Board-Certified Art Therapist. She has been in private practice for 8 years with 12+ years in the field of Mental Health, Art Therapy & various community art locations. She received her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology & Art Therapy from Naropa University. While Heather specializes in counseling & creative arts therapies with children & families, she has worked with all ages and developmental levels, including the autism spectrum, physical disabilities, and dementia. Heather believe that through art people can overcome struggles to reach their fullest potential.

Aili Lopez, LMHC, ATR

Aili Lopez is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York State.  She received her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling & Expressive Arts Therapy at Prescott College. She grew up in rural New Mexico, followed by many adventures working in places like Juarez, Mexico and Mongolia. Aili recognizes that art is a natural way to connect with others across cultures and languages. It also offers all members of the community a way to tell their stories, heal from trauma, and advocate for social change. Aili’s goal as a therapist and artist is to help individuals use art to make personal and social changes in creative ways. She primarily works as a therapist at Four Winds Hospital in Saratoga Springs, NY.


Charlotte Mack, BA

Charlotte Mack grew up in New York City and is now local to Schenectady. She obtained her bachelors in Art History from Bard College in the Spring of 2014. Since graduating she has worked various jobs and adventured across the country, to P.R, India and Africa. She has always loved art and community, but struggled to link them together. When she found CREATE she felt a strong connection right away. Charlotte believes that every person deserves equal opportunities and hopes to contribute to making that possible through offering art and community connection.


Julianne Lewis, M.Ed

Julianne Lewis is an artist, NY State certified teacher and friend of community arts organizations. She grew up in Colorado participating in music, visual and performing arts and specializes in photography. She received her Masters degree in Childhood Education here in New York State and has taught all ages and abilities for 10+ years.

Most recently, Julie has been working with children and various art mediums in spiritual and therapeutic settings. She believes that people of all ages can heal and connect through the practices of Expressive Arts.

 Board Members

President: Mary Bilik, MA, LMCH, LCAT, ATR-BC
Vice President: Jerry Matthews
Treasurer: Jennifer Regan
Secretary: Jen Horn, MA, LCAT

Judith Fenlon, Adam Tinkle, Victoria Milne, Tracy Gilbert, MA, LMHC, ATR, and Gwennan Booth.

 Workshop Instructors

Marion Leap

Welcome to CREATE Community Studios! My name is Marion Leap. I grew up in the Capital Region and attended Niskayuna High School where I realized my love for creating art. At the College of Saint Rose, I studied under some fantastic teachers and graduated with concentrations in painting, silkscreen and drawing. For 34 years, I taught K-6 art, first in the Coxsackie-Athens School District and the last 25 years in the City School District of Albany. In 2013, I retired and began pursuing my passion in creating art. As my husband put it, I was “retired but not tired”. I also have three children who I am proud to say also make use of art in varying degrees to express themselves. Marion instructs our Kids' Art Time workshop in Schenectady, and will be the instructor for this summers Art in the Park. 

Colleen Wygal

Colleen Wygal is an energetic poet and teacher of literature. She has worked with children and adults of all ages and is skilled at coaxing even the most timid writers to wield their wisdom. Colleen instructs our Everything is Lit and All Write Together workshops in Schenectady. She will be instructing for this summers Art in the Park program. 

Kristi Isabella

Kristi received my BFA with a concentration in ceramics from SUNY New Paltz. She has been teaching a kindergarten art class for the past 10 years at The Spotted Zebra Learning Center in Colonie and has many years of experience teaching pre school children with special needs and skill levels. Kristi instructs our Clay Day Sunday workshops in both Schenectady and Saratoga. 

Keisha R. Stovall

Keisha’s art training started at Bayside Music & Art High School in Queens, New York. After a brief stint as a psychology major at Baruch College, she returned to art where each day she learns skills to share with her students. A Portrait artist, she has been assisting in art classes in the Schenectady City Schools for six years. For many years she has been working with artists of all ages on how to put their visions on paper. Keisha hosts special events and Open Studio in Schenectady.

Kathy Klompas

Kathy Klompas is an engaging artist who has journeyed from textiles to printmaking, using her vivid sense of color and form to create breathtaking works on paper and fabric. Kathy loves the simple, spontaneous nature of gelli plate printing. She created a large installation of over 150 translucent panels collaged with gelli printed papers for The Historic Stockade District Garden and Art Tour this summer. As a Guest Artist, she taught students Schenectady High School the technique. She is owner of Ragged Edge Printmaking Studio, a full function community art facility conveniently located in Cohoes, offering facilities, classes and support for local artists.  Her signature hand-printed silk scarves are available locally at Departures Gallery, Albany Institute of History and Art, Elissa Halloran Designs. Kathy hosts special Gelli plate Printing workshops in Schenectady and Saratoga.

* C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios does not provide Art Therapy services.*

If you are interested in Art Therapy,

you may find more information at: The American Art Therapy AssociationNew York State: Office of the Professions