SARATOGA SPRINGS — Three young girls sat equidistant around a U-shaped table, hard at work shaping clay pots in the C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studio. Instructor Jen Horn stands at the center, digging through a box of ceramics tools.
The homeschool students are here for the Homeschool Art Class that Horn runs every Wednesday.
Heather Hutchison, Julie Lewis, and Aili Lopez — C.R.E.A.T.E. founders and three-fourths of the operations staff — sit in front of a wall saturated with local art.
C.R.E.A.T.E. opened two spaces in 2017 — on Broadway and in Schenectady. After two years, their Saratoga office moved to 70 Beekman St. with Living Resources.
The non-profit provides wellness activities and expressive art instruction to the public, with a focus on underserved communities and people with mental health needs. C.R.E.A.T.E. does not currently provide art therapy services, but plans to one day and has their roots there.
Some of the classes offered on a weekly basis include Lopez’s teen group every Monday, which pulls in a consistent group of students, and Wednesday’s healing art hour — perfect for homeschool students or people on their lunch break. Other events can be found on their website.
Besides the activities and classes done on site., C.R.E.A.T.E. also holds “suitcase programs” in which they go to places like the local library, Healing Springs Recovery Community Center, or Project Lift, which provides free after school programming.
Suitcase programs allow C.R.E.A.T.E. to reach communities that may not be able to find them on Beekman. And it is grants, from places like The Kimberly Beth Kennedy Family Foundation in Saratoga, that make this possible.
Other outside programs included a fundraising event recently conducted in collaboration with the Beekman St. Arts District and Frederick-Douglass Lodge. According to Lewis, about 65 people went to create alongside eight artists — many from Beekman — who donated three hours of their time and even some of their materials.
Currently, a collaboration between SUNY Empire State College and CREATE Community Studios depicts an exhibit featuring more than 120 pieces on display at the college’s 113 West Ave. campus. For more information, go to: createcommunitystudios.org.