Sam Van Aken

Sam Van Aken

Syracuse, NY

Van Aken’s art combines sophisticated technology with traditional modes of art-making. His projects cross boundaries between artistic genres, including performance, installation, video, photography, and sculpture. With each body of work, he selects practices and new perspectives that provide a kinesthetic perception of objects and a visceral charge. Born in Reading Pennsylvania, Van Aken received his undergraduate education in Communication Theory and Art. Immediately following his studies he lived and worked in Poland under the auspices of the Andy Warhol Foundation and the United States Information Agency. Returning after several years in Europe, Van Aken received his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001. Since this time his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally receiving numerous honors including a Joan Mitchell Award, Association of International Curator’s of Art Award and a 2009 Creative Capital Grant. Van Aken is currently an Associate Professor in the Art Department at Syracuse University.

Tree of 40 Fruit

Sam Van Aken

Artist Bio

The Tree of 40 Fruit is an ongoing series of unique hybridized fruit trees each of which have the capacity to grow over 40 different varieties of fruit from the family of stone fruit, which includes peach, plum, apricot, nectarine, cherry, and almond. Through sculpting by way of grafting, each tree is composed to blossom in variegated tones of pink and white throughout spring as they become burdened with a multitude of fruit through late summer and early fall. The Trees of 40 Fruit are the beginning of a narrative. As a symbolic number found throughout western religion and culture, the number 40 symbolizes the infinite, a bounty that is beyond calculation. Like the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, these trees are a potential; they are the beginning of a story that transforms the sites where they are located.

Ecological Art
Award Year

In Progress