Metropolis Cafe Featured Artist: Ashley T. Samson

Located in Edgewater, one of the country’s most eclectic locales, the Metropolis Café is relaxed and without attitude. Our customers come from all walks of life and we love ‘em all. And they seem to love our coffee and tea, our sweet and savory bites, and our accomplished vegan menu. Did we mention art, music…? Stop by–we’ll fill you in.

Our current featured artist at Metropolis Cafe came to us the honest way; she lived around the corner from us and was very, very patient, persistent AND talented.

Her name? Ashley Samson. For us, her work invokes a romantic, rustic period of time somehow burned into the collective memory of humanity. Her current artistic bent might be a good outlet for her since her daily work takes on the much more immediate task of helping people.

In her show at the Cafe, “found” items from the past come together with a near-visible metaphorical string pulled through the spiritual heart of each object. The end results are hanging pieces constructed so as to provide their own framework–both physically and metaphorically.

Enough of what we think. The artist: “It’s kind of modern but historical; a lot of the work has old doorknobs and keys,” says Samson, noting a major theme in this exhibit. “[It's mostly] in and out kind of stuff. Each piece has a history of people looking in and out or coming in and out, which leads me to the idea of relationships between people, coming and going.”

Originally concepted as a show featuring silk prints, she decided to feature her found art projects instead–her first exclusive found art show, usually tending more toward painting and collage. “I like the old stuff and it’s being rapidly discarded [these days],” she says. “It’s literally a lost art, finding things people are getting rid of and putting it together until it evolves into something cool.

When not following her personal artistic leanings, Samson spends her time helping others do so for themselves. She uses her Masters in Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to work as an art therapist across a wide range of people here in Chicago. She knew her direction would take this direction early on: “Before I could even read, I was drawing out stories. I’d take my little brother’s scribbles and make them into pictures.”

In Chicago since 2005 first as a student and then as a registered art therapist, Samson works with a wide range of people. She uses art as a way to direct and aid their recoveries from all kinds of trials and tribulations: illness (both mental and physical), foster care kids, women with eating disorders. “I knew I wanted to work in a ‘helping others’ kind of field, where I could give back AND be philosophical about art.

“When I found out there was something that twisted art and psychology together, it was perfect,” says Samson. “I figured that out in high school and pursued it all the way through.”

Given that commitment to helping people, which we find very admirable, Metropolis Cafe is glad to be able to host the personal side of this artist–especially since she spends so much time doing for others, helping them cope with–life.

“It’s not about the product but the process,” says Samson. “The artwork can look awful, you can throw it away when you’re done with it. [It's] more about what you’re trying to say in your work. It’s taking that same kind of passion, or way of speaking with images, and putting it into a format that literally can help people who are struggling. It’s one of those things that’s rewarding as a whole but you don’t see it every day.”

So come by Metropolis Cafe and see this artist’s work, most of it is for sale, and you can find out more about Samson on Facebook.

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