Sam Van Aken: The Orchard as Archive and Social Practice

Sketch of a peach on a tree limb with a blossom sketch in the upper right corner and a peach cut in half in the lower left corner.

George IV (2018), graphite on paper. drawing / courtesy of the artist and Ronald Feldman Fine Art

Sam Van Aken combines new technologies with traditional modes of art making to create projects that cross boundaries as they explore such themes as communication, botany, agriculture, climatology, and the ever-increasing impact of technology. Employing antistructures and generative processes, Van Aken's interventions in the natural and public realm are seen as metaphors that serve as the basis of narrative, sites of placemaking, and, in some cases, even become the basis of scientific research.

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Van Aken received his undergraduate education in art and communication theory. Immediately following his studies he lived in Poland and, through the auspices of the Andy Warhol Foundation and the United States Information Agency, worked with dissident artists under the former communist regime. Van Aken received his M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and since then his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, receiving numerous honors including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, Association of International Curators of Art Award, and a Creative Capital Grant. Van Aken lives and works in Syracuse, New York, where he is currently an associate professor at the School of Art at Syracuse University. Van Aken's work is represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.

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