Sam Van Aken, ‘Tree planted at Syracuse University’, 2012, Ronald Feldman Gallery

About Sam Van Aken

Sam van Aken uses performance, video, and installation to distort expectations and force critical encounters. “I approach art as a situation, rather than creating an image and having people perceive it,” he has said. Van Aken creates works that are multi-sensory and often large in both scale and ambition. This approach is epitomized in one of his best-known works, Tree of 40 Fruit, in which the artist grafted multiple species of stone fruit onto one tree in hopes of producing new varieties of fruit and a tree that would yield vivid, polychromatic foliage. Contrasting established methods with experimental applications, the speculative work relies on the centuries-old technology of grafting to create new forms of flora and raise issues about ecosystems and biodiversity.

American, b. 1972