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“Tree of 40 Fruit” series “Tree of 40 Fruit” series
“Tree of 40 Fruit” series “Tree of 40 Fruit” series
“Tree of 40 Fruit” series “Tree of 40 Fruit” series
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Syracuse University and the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) have participated in a yearlong process with the Atlantic Coast Conference, partner ACC universities and the Smithsonian Institution to create the first “ACCelerate: ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival.” Presented by Virginia Tech and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the ACCelerate Festival is a three-day celebration of creative exploration and research at the nexus of science, engineering, arts and design. Visitors to the festival will interact with leading innovators from ACC universities—including Sam Van Aken, associate professor of studio arts in VPA’s  School of Art—and engage with new interdisciplinary technologies that draw upon art, science and humanities to address global challenges.

Held at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 13-15, from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. each day, the event is programmed by Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology and the museum’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

The event is free and showcases the 15 universities of the ACC in an opportunity for the schools to display their work to each other and, more importantly, to the public. In addition to the 47 featured interactive installations, the festival will include panel discussions and performances throughout the three days.

The festival will be featured on all three public floors in the west wing of the National Museum of American History, located on Constitution Avenue between 12th and 14th streets, NW, along the National Mall in Washington, D.C. There will be 47 interactive installations from across the 15 ACC schools around six thematic areas:

  • civic engagement
  • arts and technology
  • sustainability and environment
  • biomimetics
  • health and body
  • making and advanced manufacturing

Van Aken is a contemporary artist who works beyond traditional modes of art-making, crossing artistic genres and disciplines to develop new perspectives on such themes as communication, botany, agriculture, climatology and the ever-increasing impact of technology. At the ACCelerate Festival he will exhibit a tree from his Tree of 40 Fruit series. The Tree of 40 Fruit is a single grafted tree with the capacity to grow more than 40 different varieties of stone fruit, including peach, plum, apricot, nectarine, cherry and almond. Created by Van Aken through the process of grafting, the Tree of 40 Fruit appears as a normal fruit tree throughout the majority of the year until spring, when it blossoms in variegated tones of pink, white and crimson, and summer, when it becomes laden with a multitude of fruit.

Primarily composed of antique and native stone fruit varieties the Tree of 40 Fruit is a form of conservation, preserving rare, unknown or now forgotten cultivars that are not commercially available. Learn more at