The Tree of 40 Fruit is quite literally a fruit tree that will grow forty varieties of fruit from the family of stone fruits, including peach, plum, apricot, nectarine, cherry and the hybrid species therein. Blossoming in variegated tones of white and pink in early spring, and burdened by fruit in late summer, this work draws its significance from the number forty. Found throughout history and in particular in western religious texts, the number forty symbolizes the innumerable, a bounty beyond calculation. The Tree of 40 Fruit is an allegorical sculpture: like the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, this tree embodies potential, the beginning of a narrative that will transform the site in which it is located. Artist and arborist Sam Van Aken’s multidisciplinary practice includes sculpture, video, and installation art, exploring the making and meaning of mythology within intersections between nature and culture.
About the artist
Sam Van Aken was born in Reading, PA and currently lives and works in Syracuse, NY. He received a MFA from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2001. His work has been featured in recent solo exhibitions at the Armory Show (2011); Schmucker Art Gallery, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA (2011); Hallwalls Gallery, Buffalo, NY (2008); Rochester Contemporary, Rochester, NY (2008); and Tacheles Kunsthaus, Berlin, Germany (2008). His work is included in the collections of Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY; 21c Museum, Louisville, KY; Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME; Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, Portland, OR; and the University of North Carolina. Van Aken was the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Painters and Sculptors in 2010, and the Creative Capital Grant in Emerging Fields in 2009.