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 everyone. Our 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 Art History
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 spent a year as a live in nanny, driven across the country, lived in Puerto Rico for a month, visited India for 6 weeks, and worked a variety of jobs. She has always loved art and community, but struggled to link them together. When she found CREATE she felt a strong connection right away. She is bringing her focus back to the roots of her education and pursuing further into the arts world. Connecting community and art has been a dream, and C.R.E.A.T.E. is helping it become a reality.
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.
President: Mary Bilik, MA, LMCH, LCAT, ATR-BC
Vice President: Jerry Matthews
Treasurer: Jennifer Regan
Secretary: Jen Horn, MA, LCAT
Judith Fenlon, Adam Tinkle, Alexis Katz, LCSW-R, Victoria Milne, Tracy Gilbert, MA, LMHC, ATR, Gwennan Booth & Sara Wagner.
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 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.
Celeste has been knitting since childhood and is currently pursuing Level III of the TKGA Master Knitting Program. She began teaching classes in 2008, using her graduate training in fine arts and education to provide high quality instruction to her students. Celeste’s patterns have been featured on the cover of Interweave Knits magazine and in special issues including The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits, Jane Austen Knits, and Holiday Gifts, the Knitting and Crochet Pattern-a-Day Calendars. Her books are Knits of a Feather and Baby & Me Knits. She regularly teaches knitting, spinning, and crochet lessons throughout the northeast. Celeste instructs our Knit Night workshop in Schenectady.
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.
Carol graduated from the College of St.Rose, Albany, NY with a degree in Studio Art. She works as a full-time artist showing her work in galleries and cafes in the Capital Region, as well as teaching painting at Create and privately in her home. Carol instructs our Drawing Skills workshops in Schenectady.
Victoria O. Milne, MSEd, CSC
Victoria O. Milne is excited to join Create. She has a passion for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. She holds a Master's Degree in Multicultural Education and is a NYS Certified K-12 School Counselor, Licensed Interfaith Minister, Bereavement Practitioner, and is an Ecclesiastically Endorsed Clinical Chaplain. She has been leading children and adults at schools, colleges, hospitals, and workshops to Wellness of Mind, Body and Spirit through the discovery of life's meaning and hope in times of transition. Victoria is the owner of Sanctuary of Heart and Spirit, which can be found at www.sanctuaryheart.com. Victoria instructs our Scrapbook of Love workshop in Schenectady.
I’m an artist that focuses primarily on fantasy illustration, portraiture, and character design. I graduated from Skidmore College in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in fine art, and began my freelancing career in 2010 doing both graphic design and illustration projects for various clients. In July of 2015 I began teaching at the College of Saint Rose’s Summer Academy for Youth, and I continue to teach my classes every summer to children in grades 6-10. Emily instructs our Fantasy/Manga Drawing workshop in Saratoga.
Lindsey is a graphic designer, photographer, and visual artist located in Albany, New York. She graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design and Digital Media from Champlain College in Burlington, VT in 2014. During her studies, she spent time interning and studying in New York, NY and Montreal, PQ. After spending some time in Montreal, PQ, she moved back to the Albany to continue a career in arts. Lindsey now works as a freelance graphic designer (specializing in print design) as well as a photography teacher at the Bethlehem Central High School continuing education program. Additionally, Lindsey tutors private and group photography lessons and sells and displays her visual work. Visit lindseydeberry.com to view samples of her work online. Lindsey instructs our Art Journaling workshop in Saratoga.
Sara Wagner is the owner and creative mind behind Studio Blackwater, located in Greenfield, NY. She loves exploring new techniques and specializes in acrylic pouring or fluid art, alcohol ink, abstract landscapes, traditional tattoo-style art, and anything with glitter. Sara also writes educational and opinion pieces, and has been published through AcrylicPouring.com and The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Her goal is to help others using the many benefits of creative work.
* C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios does not provide Art Therapy services.*
If you are interested in Art Therapy,