Sam Van Aken Sam Van Aken: Open Orchard

News Jun 07, 2018

SAM VAN AKEN // OPEN ORCHARD JUNE 7 - AUGUST 25, 2018
OPENING RECEPTION: JUNE 7, 2018

Exhibiting artist-in-residence Sam Van Aken’s ongoing project, The Open Orchard, turns the first-floor gallery at McColl Center for Art + Innovation into a studio and workshop where the artist will preserve heirloom and antique fruit varieties before they disappear. Included are Van Aken’s botanical illustrations and descriptions of centuries old fruit; tree stumps taken from old heirloom orchards that show the transition at the juncture of graft and trunk; herbarium specimens of pressed branches and flowers; and peach “wands” collected during the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, suspended from the ceiling.

In turning the gallery into a workspace, Van Aken invites the community to participate in, learn, and, subsequently, teach the process of printing and hand-coloring botanical illustrations, creating herbarium specimens, and cooking dishes based on these fruits. This experiential setting is simultaneously aesthetic, community-based, educational, research-oriented, and, ultimately, a form of conservation that attempts to address threats to food security and loss of diversity, preserving not just agriculture but the culture that surrounds these increasingly forgotten fruits.

Evolving out of Van Aken’s Tree of 40 Fruit project, in which heirloom orchards were preserved by collapsing them onto a single tree through the process of grafting, The Open Orchard attempts to “explode” the Tree of 40 Fruit project by placing these antique fruits back onto individual trees and making them available to the public.

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