APPLE VALLEY, Minn.- The conversation flows as freely as the paint brushes at Augustanta Open Circle in Apple Valley. Open Circle is a place where seniors can spend their day- many of them with both physical and memory challenges that can come with aging.

Art specialist Dana Hughes leads seniors through weekly art experiences that both expand their horizons, and also helps them dig deep into their past. These are true students of art- learning about painters and technique, and then trying it themselves.

Open Circle Manager Patty Crawford says as students work, they reveal aspects of their lives that might not otherwise be visible to the casual observer. "I see how life may have moved into the abstract for them, away from the concrete," Crawford said, "but it is still a thing of beauty."

Self-portraits, abstract paintings, landscapes, even some crafts. It might seem like a lot to take on, but her students say Hughes makes it fun.

"She takes time with everybody," explained Thomas Monitor, Sr. "She takes the time and shows everybody how to do the different projects."

"I focus on education," said Hughes. "That gives me a point of departure."

"Often times it will go in a direction that will reveal a part of their past. If somebody maybe had a lot of experience on the water, you might see that imagery coming back."

What these students create is truly beautiful. Much of it is on display at Augustana's Apple Valley location, but students are also staging an art show this month.

Titled "I am Here," the show will open Thursday, August 10th at Adler Graduate School, 1550 E. 78th Street in Richfield from 10 a.m. until noon. The Augustana Open Circle Choir will perform at 10:45 a.m.

The artwork will be on display an open to the public through the month of August.