ARTmail for Alzheimer’s: UNCG logo2Over the past two years, CAN-NC collaborated with UNCG’s Human Development and Family Studies Department to engage in a large-scale study of the ARTmail for Alzheimer’s program. The program was evaluated to see if participants with dementia improved in neuropsychiatric symptoms compared to control group persons who engaged in their usual activities for the study period. We are excited to publish the data once it is all collated.

Learn more about the pilot study at and the primary investigator, Sudha Shreeniwas at

“This program has brought joy to our residents and families.   Art is the main focal point of this project and sharing with others in a different community, but Artmail brings so much more to our resident’s daily lives.  The residents start sharing ideas and stories about different events in their lives. We have had several family members to drop by and visit during the class allowing them to watch the joy and creativity that emerges.  Although not every day is a good day for each resident, it allows the opportunity to experience and open a new door that might have otherwise remained closed.  It helps bring meaning to their day even if they did not consider themselves as artist. When they see the finished project they are so proud of their accomplishments.  Thanks for sharing this opportunity with our community!”
Gina Rice, Wellness Director, Heritage Greens

“We have been very impressed with the ARTmail project at Well-Spring Retirement Community.  The instructor is knowledgeable, patient and professional.  Residents with various physical and cognitive functioning levels are participating together and moving at their own pace.  The program is well organized and our residents appear happy and fully engaged in the process.” 
Jennifer Cunningham,  Director of Recreation & Well-Being, Well-Spring Retirement Community

Special thanks to our ARTmail Sponsors!

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Heritage Greens






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An original signature project of Creative Aging Network-NC, ARTmail is an art exchange program which uses the inside surface of a cardboard box as the canvas. Participants at two partnering sites are matched and each starts a work of art on their own box canvas. Participants mail their “in-progress” artwork to their partner and include their “Box Story” – written comments about themselves to aid in building connection between the partners. During the process, each participant learns about Abstract Expressionism as they build upon one another’s artwork and enhance the images through layering, color and texture. The abstract creative process encourages self-exploration, inner reflection and emotional connection. Trained Teaching Artists facilitate the process so no prior art experience is necessary and site staff is encouraged to join in. Once complete, a collective art exhibition is arranged and all participants, along with their friends and family, are invited to a reception to view the wonderful work of all involved.

We invite you to participate!

  • In partnership with UNCG, CAN-NC will offer ARTmail to approximately 200 older people with dementia in senior care communities throughout Greensboro.
  • We need volunteers interested in arts, aging, health, and/or research, to help with all aspects of the ARTmail project: volunteer with the ARTmail sessions, assist in data collection and data entry, work with project directors and coordinators as needed.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts is funding the evaluation study. Matching funds in the amount of $20,000 are needed for implementation of the program.
  • Your financial contribution will help us focus our limited resources on purchasing art supplies and paying our compassionate and knowledgeable teaching artists.
  • Materials needed include: acrylic or latex paint in primary colors, colored paper and tissue paper, ribbon and yarn, foam and bristle brushes, glue, markers, and lightweight fabric scraps in solid colors.

Read the initial study report here A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Evaluation of the ARTmail Project Among Seniors Living with Cognitive Limitations .

Mailing the boxes to one another generates excitement and anticipation. Participants from the pilot project reported feeling as if they were not only receiving gifts by mail, but also giving them. Often older people living in group settings, especially those with impairments don’t have this opportunity. Through participation in ARTmail, older adults are able to experience the valuable rewards of giving to others.


Working in an abstract style enables the older adults to connect both with themselves and their partnering artists in a way that words alone cannot.

Specific goals of the project for older adults:

  • Stimulate imagination and learn new skills through the development of creative self-expression
  • Discover or rediscover one’s innate creativity
  • Develop a sense of empowerment and pride in one’s abilities
  • Experience the sensation of creative self-expression in an open, non-judgmental environment
  • Connect with others by identifying commonalities and appreciating differences
  • Improve mood and reduce loneliness
  • Encourage and increase socialization
  • Contribute to and communicate with the broader community

Training is also available. Contact Lia Miller for fee details at  336-253-0856 or [email protected].

 We’re also on the National Center for Creative Aging’s website at








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