Sam Van Aken


Sam Van Aken and photos of previous Trees of 40 Fruit. Artist Rendering and photos courtesy of the artist.

Sam Van Aken is an award-winning contemporary artist and Syracuse University professor of sculpture who has developed a project called Tree of 40 Fruit Project in which the artist hand-grafts trees that bear over 40 different kinds of stone fruit including peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries and almonds. 

Performing a years-long technique that involves grafting buds from various antique, heirloom and native fruit trees onto the branches of a single base tree, Van Aken creates one-of-a-kind hybrids from a growing personal archive of over 200 fruit varieties. The artist describes his work as “part Dr. Seuss, part Frankenstein, and just about everything fantastic.”

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery Public Art Initiative hosted Van Aken for a residency to establish new relationships with artists in the field of bio-arts and with professionals and students proficient in non-traditional methodologies (as far as art is concerned) to assist the ongoing development of the artist’s project with the goal of introducing an urban orchard anchored by Trees of 40 Fruit in Buffalo.