Tree of 40 Fruit


The Tree of 40 Fruit (2008-2020)

Bioart Installation

This creative blend of art and science provides an extravagant habitat for the natural swarm of bees in the spring and for a magnificently abundant harvest in the summer. Installed in a decorative planter gracing the grounds of the Nevin Welcome Center of Cornell Botanic Gardens, “The Tree of 40 Fruit” is a single tree that grows forty different types of stone fruit including peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, and almonds. This bio-artwork blossoms in variegated tones of pink, crimson and white in spring, and in summer bears a multitude of fruit. Primarily composed of heirloom and antique varieties, many grafted from trees culled from the historical orchards of Cornell’s Geneva AgriTech campus, the “Tree of 40 Fruit” stages a performance of ecological conservation, as it preserves stone fruit varieties that are not commercially produced or available.  Derived from extensive archival research and artistic collaboration between the artists and the botanic community, “The Tree of 40 Fruit”  stages new artistic perspectives on botany, agriculture, climatology, and the ever-increasing impact of technology that exemplify the interdisciplinary promise of Cornell Biennial’s 2020 theme, “Swarm: Ecology, Digitality, Sociality.”

  • April - October 2020
  • Cornell Botanic Gardens
    Nevin Welcome Center
  • 9a-5p daily (6p Fri & Sat)

Sam Van Aken (US)

Born in Reading Pennsylvania, Sam Van Aken received his undergraduate education in Art and Communication Theory. Immediately following his studies he lived in Poland and worked with dissident artists under the former communist regime through the auspices of the Andy Warhol Foundation and the United States Information Agency. Van Aken received his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and since this time his work has been exhibited and placed nationally and internationally. He has received numerous honors including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, Association of International Curator’s of Art Award and a Creative Capital Grant. Most recently, his work has been presented as part of  Nature-Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial with the Cube Design Museum, Netherlands. The artwork traveled to Cornell from its most recent installation at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Van Aken lives and works in Syracuse New York, where he is Associate Professor in the School of Art at Syracuse University.

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