Jeff Nachtigall

Jeff Headshot

Red Box

Founder, Open Studio
Speaker & Consultant

Jeff Nachtigall is a multidisciplinary artist, curator, speaker, and social entrepreneur. His work has been exhibited throughout North America, Europe and China, and is represented in numerous public and private collections. He is the co-founder of Make Work Projects, a 2000-square foot storefront studio and sometimes art project space, located in the Riversdale district in downtown Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

He has led dozens of residencies across Canada, and regularly lectures and facilitates workshops in communities and institutions across Canada and the United States. A talented artist and gifted facilitator, he has combined his gifts to be a top-notch teaching artist. He is equally committed to both artistic excellence and inclusivity, and the artistic work that emerges from his participants, as well as the positive impact on their lives, is a testament to that.

Through working as a full-time artist-in-residence at an assisted living facility for eight years, he developed the Open Studio, a model that he has successfully replicated throughout Canada and the United States. This inclusive, non-hierarchical, client-centered strategy challenges traditional clinical approaches and pushes the boundaries of the arts in health care. This model has evolved and grown into a community-based practice, engaging marginalized groups across North America in art interventions that act as a catalyst for social change.

The Open Studio is especially effective in delivering an accessible and relevant creative outlet and experience for individuals with Alzheimer's and Dementia. Nachtigall has worked closely with Cognitive Enhancement Specialists, providing tools, techniques and training to artists, facilitators, clinicians and staff, so that they might integrate creativity into their overall model of care.

He is the founder and director of the Museum of Temporary Art, a roaming multi-city collaborative initiative that engages communities in creative activism, installing large artworks in under-utilized urban spaces, organizing alley walks, and reframing the concept of gentrification in neighborhoods in transition.

Nachtigall is the inventor of the Mobile Painting Device (MPD), an adaptive technology that transforms the wheelchair into a giant paintbrush, giving people living with neurological disabilities opportunity to express themselves on a very large scale. With delicate and precise movements of the wheelchair’s “joystick,” the artist applies calligraphic lines of paint. This is not an accidental process, a virtual substitute, or a computer-generated facsimile—the artist is in control in real time on a real canvas with real results.

The MPD has been utilized in a number of communities and projects throughout Canada and the United States, most recently in Saskatoon, Toronto, Calgary, Hamilton, and Detroit. The City as Canvas project uses the MPD as a tool to create massive paintings and map accessible routes, transforming city streets and sidewalks into a living canvas.

Nachtigall’s work has been profiled in numerous articles and documentaries, most notably in the National Film Board of Canada’s 2009 feature-length film A Year at Sherbrooke. His work was also featured in the National Center for Creative Aging’s Online Artist Training in Arts and Aging released in 2013. He is a sought-after speaker and has presented the keynote address and contributed to numerous conferences and symposiums, including:

  • Power of the Arts National Forum 2013, Ottawa Canada
  • American Society on Aging 2013, Chicago
  • Creative Aging Symposium 2012, Calgary Canada
  • Creating Space for the Arts and Humanities 2012, Banff Canada
  • Artist + Community Symposium 2012, Winnipeg Canada
  • The Society for the Arts in Dementia Care 2011, Oakville Canada
  • TEDx 2010, Saskatoon Canada

He is working with post-secondary institutions in Canada that are investigating ways to integrate his Open Studio model into the curriculum for their arts and humanities students, including: Alberta College of Art and Design; Creative Age Forum at the University of Alberta; Sheridan Elder Research Centre; University of Saskatchewan Departments of Art, Psychology, Sociology, and Education; University of Regina Department of Social Work; and Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Faculty of Nursing.

Nachtigall was key in developing the arts-based learning component for the Centre for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care at Toronto’s Baycrest Hospital, one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience. His Open Studio model taught students in the health professions the importance of using art as a vehicle for developing well-rounded clinical and interpersonal skills in geriatrics.

Nachtigall has been twice short-listed for the Lieutenant Governor’s Award in Arts and Learning. The Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Awards is an annual celebration to recognize the contribution and achievements made by Saskatchewan individuals, groups, and organizations in the arts.

He consults and advises institutions and organizations throughout Canada, Australia, and the United States on integrating the arts into the fabric of their communities. Recent partners and projects include:

  • Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina Canada
  • Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Edmonton Canada
  • Saskatoon City Hospital Rehabilitation Centre, Saskatoon Canada
  • North Dakota Arts Council and North Dakota Art for Life Committee
  • Alberta College of Art and Design, Calgary Canada
  • Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon Canada
  • Learning Research and Innovation Baycrest, Toronto Canada
  • Innovation Technology and Design Lab Baycrest, Toronto Canada
  • The Society for the Arts in Dementia Care, Perth Australia
  • Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils, Regina Canada
  • City of Calgary, Calgary Canada
  • Meewasin Valley Authority, Saskatoon Canada
  • Saskatoon Public School Division, Saskatoon Canada
  • Saskatoon Health Region, Saskatoon Canada
  • Government of Saskatchewan
  • Centre for Cultural Partnerships, University of Melbourne, Melbourne Australia
  • Saskatoon Police Service Anti Graffiti Unit, Saskatoon Canada
  • Saskatchewan Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured
  • Saskatchewan Association of Rehabilitation Centres, Supported Employment Transition Initiative
  • Dubé Centre for Mental Health and Addictions, Saskatoon Canada
  • Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa Canada
  • Arts and Health Network, Canada
  • The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre, Ottawa Canada

Links to Projects

A Year at Sherbrooke: National Film Board of Canada feature length documentary that follows the origins of the Open Studio in longterm care.

CTV Intergenerational project that focuses on building bridges in the community and the transformational power of art.

TEDx Saskatoon.;search%3A...

(IN)Accessible City: Using the Mobile Painting Device as tool to help raise awareness around accessibility issues.

Calgary City Hall Project: Mobile Painting Device at work in the community.

Community Artistry and Development
Healing Arts
Program and Project Development
Professional Teaching Artist