Artist Spotlight: Heather Hutchison

Artist and art therapist Heather Hutchison poses by her piece 'Sunflower, Moonflower."INDIANA NASH/GAZETTE REPORTER Artist and art therapist Heather Hutchison poses by her piece 'Sunflower, Moonflower."


Gazette Reporter

SCHENECTADY- Heather Hutchison’s artistic lense has given her an interesting array of jobs over the years. By the end of the year, she’s hoping to help others integrate art into their lives by opening up Create Community Studios on Lower State Street.

Growing up in Schenectady, she was a young artist from the time she picked up her first crayon. With her parents running the Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady, she also spent much of her time in the world of books.

When she went to college out in California, she got her bachelor’s degree in studio art, but right after she attended the University of Denver’s book design program.

“I worked in the book publishing and design industry out there for a while,” Hutchison said.

But after a little while, she began to realize that the publishing world wasn’t using her artistic abilities in the way that she felt passionate about.

Thus, she went back to school and got her masters degree at Naropa University in art therapy.

“My artistic career and interests are so linked to art therapy,” Hutchison said.

While working on her masters degree, she worked at a day treatment center in Boulder with kids who had severe mental illness.

“It was the toughest job I ever loved,” Hutchison said.

And it was the sort of work she knew she wanted to continue when she and her family (husband Dave and their two children, Jack and Max) moved to Schenectady in 2006 to be closer to her family.

Thus, she began her own private art therapy practice.

Most of her work is out of her office in Latham, but she also goes out to various organizations like Studio E (an epilepsy awareness group) and Kingsley Nursing Home to work with clients.

“There’s not a lot of art therapists in this area,” Hutchison admits.

Some of her clients use art therapy as a supplement to any other form of therapy they might be using, but for others, Hutchinson is the sole therapist they see.

“The process is very unique depending on the situation. With kids, it’s figuring out what their interests is. It can look very different with . . . adults. It can be scarier,” Hutchison said.

Adults often have difficulty opening up during a session.

“Clients often say that they’re not artistic or that they’re not creative . . .” Hutchison said.

It’s her job to rid clients of the notion that there is a definition of what it means to be artistic.

That’s part of what Create Community Studios will provide for local residents.

“. . . there will be plenty of time for people to just create art,” Hutchison said.

The location on Lower State Street will be partnered with another studio opening up in Saratoga, which seeks to provide the same services and is run by two other art therapists, Aili Lopez and Camille Grec.

Create Community Studios is a non-profit (501-C3) organization.

“We want to make it affordable for people who have never thought to take an art class or do anything like this,” Hutchison said.

The space will also be used as a place for local artists to hold workshops to teach interesting techniques.

“We’re welcoming all local artists for this,” Hutchison said.

With Create Community Studios Hutchison, along with her Saratoga counterparts, is hoping to allow more people the opportunity to be creative and to try out something they’ve never been able to or never felt comfortable doing.  The space will help Hutchinson to reach more people than she would working out of her office.

Since paint and sip businesses – where people enjoy a glass or two of wine and take a guided painting lesson- have been on the rise in popularity over the years, Hutchison thinks that Capital Region residents will be receptive to the idea of Create Community Studios.

However, the Studios will have a very different aim from a paint and sip business, Hutchison was quick to point out.

She wants the space to be for exploring untapped creativity and artistic skills that everyone has but that they might not have had the chance to discover.

Hutchison is looking to open the studios in early 2017.