Sam Van Aken is a contemporary artist who works beyond traditional modes of art-making, crossing artistic genres and disciplines to develop new perspectives on themes like communication, botany, agriculture, climatology and the ever-increasing impact of technology.

Why you should listen

Sam Van Aken’s interventions in the natural and public realm are seen as metaphors that serve as the basis of narrative, sites of place making 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 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 then 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. Van Aken lives and works in Syracuse, New York, where he is currently an associate professor in the School of Art at Syracuse University. Van Aken's work is represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.

Sam Van Aken’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Sam Van Aken


Trailblazers: A night of talks in partnership with The Macallan

July 1, 2019

The event: TED Salon: Trailblazers, hosted by TED design and arts curator Chee Pearlman and TED science curator David Biello When and where: Thursday, June 27, 2019, at the TED World Theater in New York City The partner: The Macallan Music: Sammy Rae & The Friends The talks in brief: Marcus Bullock, entrepreneur and justice […]

Continue reading