Using art as a vehicle for change, healing and hope.

  • For older adults living with Alzheimer’s and dementia

  • For individuals dealing with mental health and addictions issues

  • For individuals living with physically disabilities and chronic conditions 

  • And the communities and professionals dedicated to enhancing quality of life

Art is our first language. 

Before we can read or write or speak, we communicate visually, making marks with anything we can get our hands on. This visual language transcends the limitations that often present themselves within traditional forms of communication. The creative conversation levels the playing field and helps to eliminate hierarchies... perceived or otherwise... allowing for authentic and meaningful dialog and engagement. This is the philosophy behind Open Studio Projects.

Visual communication — art — is our first language, our common language.

Developed by Jeff Nachtigall during his eight years as artist-in-residence at a long-term care facility, Open Studio Projects is an inclusive, person-centered model that pushes beyond the traditional boundaries of institutional art therapy. 

By using art to engage individuals, Open Studio Projects has become a vehicle for change, healing and hope.

When I meet someone with dementia, a brain injury or a cognitive disorder, I don’t assume their brain is "broken"–I just accept that it is working an a different way.                      


                                                                                    - Jeff Nachtigall, Founder & Director, Open Studio Projects


The power of art in health care.

The most profound impact of Open Studio Projects has been on the residents of long-term care facilities — older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and adults of all ages living with cognitive impairment, mental health issues, addictions or physical disabilities. Individuals who once contemplated suicide become role models. Lethargy is replaced by new energy as residents enthusiastically express themselves through art. Open Studio participants find a new voice, and this voice empowers them to give back to their families, their communities, their caregivers. 

Open Studio Projects also helps build more vibrant workplaces, where staff contribute to a community that is larger than themselves. The model is a natural forum for dialogue. It helps break down organizational silos and promotes communication and collaborative among health care providers, specialists, researchers and caregivers.

Open Studio Projects: a catalyst for social change.

The Open Studio model has been successfully replicated in long-term care communities throughout North America. It has also been adapted for use in acute care, mental health and addictions, community-based at-risk youth and transitional programs, with equally profound results. 

One of the unique aspects of the model is the “open studio” concept. There are no silos based on age or ability; instead, Jeff has developed a process that enables communities to engage all residents and create a sense of inclusiveness. 

Communities across North America are using Open Studio Projects as model to engage marginalized groups in art interventions that act as catalysts for social change. It is a proven, community-based practice that can provide a sustainable resource for your community for years to come.

What I like most about our artist in residence, Jeff Nachtigall, is that he’s very clear; it’s not about him 

teaching people about art … It’s about him finding a way to help people discover the art that’s within

them and expressing it.

​                                                                                                                                                          -Ray Purdie, Chaplain

Cultivating Creativity in your community