Sam Van Aken is an award-winning contemporary artist, professor of sculpture at Syracuse University and creator of the “Tree of 40 Fruit Project,” which has been described as “part Dr. Seuss, part Frankenstein, and just about everything fantastic.”
His practice of grafting buds from a variety of antique, heirloom and native fruit trees onto the branches of a single tree, has resulted in unique hybrids that bear different kinds of stone fruit, from peaches and plums, to cherries and almonds. His CAI residency, which is being coordinated by the Public Arts Initiative of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, allows Van Aken to interact with other artists in the field of bio arts, and work with professionals and UB students to develop an urban orchard in Buffalo's historic Fruit Belt neighborhood.
Van Aken's Nov. 9th Masterclass was a consideration of the ethical issues that working in the field of bio-arts confronts and how to develop work in dialogue with other professions to maximize project success. MFA students benefitted from an opportunity to discuss career-related issues with Van Aken, an established artist, as well as with Aaron Ott, Curator of Public Art for the Albight-Knox Art Gallery.