School of Visual and Performing Arts Professor and Tree of 40 Fruit creator Sam Van Aken closed out the Fall 2014 season of the Strathmore Speaker Series on Thursday, November 20th.
About Sam Van Aken:
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Sam 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. Sam Van Aken is currently an Associate Professor in the Art Department at Syracuse University.
Sam Van Aken’s art combines sophisticated technology with traditional modes of art-making. Van Aken’s 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.
Most recently, he has gained acclaim for his Tree of 40 Fruit project. For this project, Van Aken uses the ancient technique of grafting to attach branches from various types of stone fruit onto a single tree, resulting in one tree that blooms in a multitude of colors and bears a range of fruit, including peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, and almonds. Currently, Van Aken has sixteen such trees installed at locations across the country. Van Aken’s project has been featured by NPR, Time, and CBS, among other news outlets. In March of 2014, he spoke at TEDxManhattan (see below).