Sam Van Aken
 Tree of 40 Fruit, Grafted Tree, 2016

Born in Reading, PA Sam Van Aken grew-up as a part of a farming family. Art became his passion. Aken received his MFA from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His artwork combines new technology with traditional art methods, taking form in sculpture, sound, video and performance.

Prior works have included a radio hoax, a hole in the winter skies over New York and recently a tree that grows 40 different types of fruit. Van Aken is an assistant professor of art at Syracuse University and over the years has returned to soil, creating art based on stone fruits and orchards.

As an artwork, The Tree of 40 Fruit aims to create a moment of rethinking as it blossoms in different tones of pink, white, and crimson in spring and then bears a multitude of stone fruit species throughout the summer. It also a form of conservation, preserving native, heirloom, and antique varieties of fruit once grown in the area. Van Aken plans to create entire orchards of heirloom trees as a resource for individuals and growers to help reintroduce these forgotten fruit varieties.