Greetings from Aaron – the 2016 First Curator’s Apprentice


Greetings extended community of the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum! I would like to take a moment to let you all know who I am, as you will be seeing me around the Arboretum a lot this summer. My name is Aaron Jordan Hughes, and I am both thrilled and honored to introduce myself as the 2016 First Curator’s Apprentice at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, sponsored by Toyota Inc. North America.

Believe it or not, but I first discovered the art of Bonsai by accident! I bought a Bonsai care book at a used bookstore by mistake, thinking it was about vegetable gardening. After sitting on my bookshelf for several weeks collecting dust, I finally got around to flipping through it. Needless to say, I was instantly hooked. An art form that seeks to mimic nature by working with and sculpting living, breathing organisms that are constantly growing and changing. What an impossible yet enticing challenge to undertake! A Bonsai is never finished, and that is the most exciting part to me.

Through intense study and practice, it is my goal to come as close as humanly possible to mastering this art form. In doing so, I hope to elevate the Western World’s standing as serious, dedicated and talented artists among the international Bonsai community.

To help you get a quick snapshot of who I am, I would like to share some of the highlights of my life thus far. First, traveling extensively throughout Europe with my brother Adam as a teenager. Second, spending a year of my life living in New Zealand working as a rock climbing instructor and gardener. Lastly, receiving my BFA in Sculpture from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University.

I am so excited to be here at the Arboretum, and with the guidance and supervision of Head Curator Jack Sustic and the wonderful team of staff and volunteers, I am confident that I will take my understanding, ability, and knowledge of Bonsai and Penjing to the next level. On that note, I will be sharing photos and small bits of information with you over the next few months to help give you get an insight into my time here at the Museum. Doing this will also allow me to shed some light onto the kinds of things a bonsai apprentice might be responsible for here in America. So stay tuned, as I look forward to sharing my summer with you.

Last but not least, I would like to send a big thank you to the folks at Toyota Inc. North America for sponsoring this internship. Without you, this opportunity would not have been possible. Thank you!


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  1. Jim Hughes /

    I’ve always found that “A bonsai is never finished” is one of the qualities that draws me to bonsai also. I look forward to hearing about your activities at the museum this summer. And, yes, a huge thank you to Toyota! Their support makes all this possible.

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