2019 Minnesota State Fair Commemorative Art
About the Artwork
When the Minnesota State Fair contacted me about creating the commemorative art, I thought about the unique experience of how animals are chosen as “Supreme Champions” – the best of the best – and how this tradition honors the past and inspires the present. As the first photographer commissioned by the Minnesota State Fair, I wanted to create a portrait that pays homage to this legacy, highlights the spirit of competition, and documents champion livestock at a decisive moment in time and place at one of the most competitive and popular animal contests in the world.
For this photograph, Minnesota State Fair Supreme Champion Pairings from 2018, I created portraits of the top male and female open-class exhibition winners in the goat, swine, poultry, sheep, llama, rabbit, beef cattle, draft horse and stock dog categories. Moments after being awarded the title “Supreme Champion” in 2018, the animals were escorted to my photography studio on the fairgrounds (with safety a top priority, of course). After the 12 days of fun, I composited the portraits together to create the final print. Hidden in the artwork is a little surprise inspired by my children, ages 2 and 3, who love to “horse around.”
Drawing inspiration from the earliest animal contests that coincided with the first major exhibition of photography, at the 1851 World’s Fair in London, this photograph celebrates the hard work, pride and passion of animal competitors at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.
R. J. Kern
June 6, 2019
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