SARATOGA SPRINGS – A family friendly kickoff to fall featuring food, music and individual and group art projects will take place Saturday afternoon at Pitney Meadows Community Farm. Attendees will have the opportunity to create kites, flower crowns and a collaborative sculpture project - which will be installed at the farm.
The event is hosted by C.R.E.A.T.E Community Studios, a nonprofit organization that works with children and adults to promote freedom of expression, personal growth, and community connection through art.
“We were formed by a group of art therapists and art educators,” says group co-founder Julie Lewis. “Our mission is really about bringing the expressive arts to an underserved population and working with communities to bring health and wellness - through the expressive arts - as a medium through which community togetherness can happen.”
The focus is on the process of art-making, which includes interacting with subjects, creatively working from a feeling, or becoming inspired by community issues. It is about using the creative process as a vehicle for personal growth, communication and social change.
“My interest came from my background of working in schools and specifically working with some low-income at-risk populations,” says Lewis, a NY State certified teacher.
“I saw half of my students struggling so much with the academic side of things and what I realized is they weren’t struggling because of academic needs – they’re extremely bright – but because there was so much change and trauma and difficulty in their family lives. And they didn’t have a proper outlet for that in school,” she says. “The kids were clearly showing me that there were ways they wanted to utilize activities in terms of the arts and physical activity, music and the movement to express themselves. I felt a little powerless trying to change that in a school structure. I realized I really wanted to find a way to make a space for that.”
Inspired to seek like-minded collaborators, Lewis connected with Heather Hutchison – a state licensed creative arts therapist, and Aili Lopez, a licensed mental health counselor. “They both had a similar dream of opening up some type of community center focused around using all the arts – movement, music, visual, performance everything to help bring communities together and to heal,” Lewis says.
C.R.E.A.T.E is located on Broadway in Saratoga Springs in the Collamer Building and on State Street in Schenectady and offers a variety of affordable art-based workshops for all age groups. The organization has also partnered with veterans’ groups and agencies such as the Franklin Community Center, Wellspring, and Shelters of Saratoga to offer programs for specific populations.
“We’re really focused on trying to meet all the needs of our community members,” Lewis says. A list of programs may be found on the organization’s website at: http://www.createcommunitystudios.org/.
Saturday’s events take place 3 to 6 p.m. at Pitney Meadows Community Farm, 223 West Ave. Tickets are $30 per family and $15 per individual and may be purchased in advance on the organization’s website, or at the farm on the day of the event.
Funds raised support C.R.E.A.T.E.’s mission to serve everyone who walks through their doors by providing a space where the benefits of art-making impact each person’s overall mental, emotion-al and physical health through free and low-cost open studio time, expressive arts groups for kids, teens and adults, arts workshops and community wellness activities, community building events and imperative outreach programming.