A two-part series on Fstoppers highlights my work, written by Eli Drefuss:
Four works from my series, The Unchosen Ones, were selected for the 56th Annual Juried Competition Exhibition, juried by Catherine Futter, Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The juried group exhibition at the Masur Museum of Art, Monroe, LA runs Feb 28 – May 11, 2019. Futter’s curatorial statement reads:
This exhibition focused primarily on IDENTITY— how identity is assigned, constructed, fluid, rejected, reclaimed, and embraced. Some works are portraits that represent a sitter’s outward style and convey an inner attitude. Others are more enigmatic, more mysterious. They ask us to question our own identites past, present, and future. How do we see ourselves? How do we want to be seen?
A reception with the juror's talk and prize announcements held Thursday, April 25th, 5:30-7:30pm.
Special thanks to Lindsay Kearney, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Masur Museum of Art, for providing installation photographs of the work. I am honored to have my work exhibited with the participating artists. It has been wonderful to work with her and her team!
Elizabeth Abaravich, CA; Abe Abraham, NY; Trenton Brown, GA; Richard Buswell, MT; Paula Campbell, TN; Norm Diamond, TX; M. M. Dupay, OH; Leslie Elliottsmith, LA; Farimah Eshraghi, MA; Amy Faggard, TX; Ashley Gardner, AR; Gale Gibbs, TX; Stephanie Gonzalez, TX; Sarah Granberg, OR; Richard Greene, CA; Crummy Gummy, FL; Gao Hang, TX; Lewinale Havette, GA; Dianne Hebbert, NY; Pato Hebert, CA; Ming Ying Hong, MS; Jennifer Hoskins, SC; Shreepad Joglekar, KS; R. J. Kern, MN; Noelle King, NY; David Knox, LA; Sena Kwon, NY; Joshua Littlefield, MD; Gabi Magaly, TX; A.M. Martens, IL; Andy Mattern, OK; Corinne McAuley, AZ; Daniel Melo, CA; Rebecca Miller, MO; Jason Nelson, LA; Jim Pearson, IL; Sandi Pfeifer, FL; Nikii Berry Richey, TN; Evie Richner, TN; Sharon Shapiro, VA; Annisty Thompson, AL; Chad Thompson, SC; Tonja Torgerson, IN; Rhonda Urdang, AZ; Kevin Vanek, MS; Jiawei Zhao, NY
The Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts announced the awards for the 6th International Open Call, juried by Aline Smithson (founder of LENSCRATCH). I am excited and honored to share Kol and Annabell, Anoka County Fair, Minnesota, 2016 from my series, The Unchosen Ones, received second place!
Looking through the names of the 74 photographers selected, I’m proud to be listed with these friends and colleagues. I’ve enjoyed getting to know these artists and their personal projects (and some even swapping prints, including 1st place winner Eric Kunsman for his print, 4th of July, 2014 – Palmyra, NY). The exhibition is on view through Friday, March 15th, 2019 and is free to the public.
Little known fact: I first visited RISD in Providence in 1994 and considered enrolling in their BFA program, as my high school teacher Ricker Winsor graduated there and worked with Harry Callahan). I decided to pursue a liberal arts degree at Colgate University, however, I am excited to exhibit work in the same small town that inspired many great photographers).
I'm honored to announce that I have been commissioned as the first-ever fine-art photographer chosen to create the official MN State Fair art. The MN State Fair Commemorative Art unveiling event will be Thursday, June 6, 2019 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m in St Paul. The original art will be on display in the Fine Arts Center during the 12-day run of the 2019 State Fair (Aug 22 - Sept 2). For more information about the fair’s commemorative art, visit mnstatefair.org/art.
I can’t reveal much about the final artwork , I offer this sneak peek at my working process to create one of my most ambitious commissioned photographs:
Thank you to Pamela Espeland for her announcement in MinnPost linked here >>
I’m looking forward to a strong 2019 in sharing my work in juried exhibitions. So far, the line-up for opening receptions in Jan / Feb 2019:
Photowork 2019, 32nd Annual National Juried Photography Exhibition, Juror: James A. Ganz, Senior Curator of Photography, J. Paul Getty Museum, Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY (February 9 - Mar 23, 2019)
9th Annual International Juried Exhibition, Juror: Carrie Dedon, Assistant Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, Seattle Art Museum, Gallery 110, Seattle, WA (February 7–March 2, 2019)
Houston Center of Photography Print Auction 2019 Exhibition, Houston Center of Photography, Houston, TX January 25 - February 25, 2019. Reception January 25, 2019 at 5:30pm (I will be in attendance)
24th Arts in Harmony 2019 Annual International Show— Arts North Exhibition, Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hopkins, MN (January 10-February 17, 2019)
I am honored that a selection from my series, "The Unchosen Ones," was exhibited as part of the 2018 Yixian International Photography Festival in Anhui, China. Guo Jing curated the exhibition for international section at the festival, one of the most influential festivals in China. I met Guo Jing during a portfolio review at Photolucida 2017 in Portland and she exhibited "The Sheep and the Goats" in China last year as well. In addition to the Chinese photographers, there were over exhibitions from over 50 photographers from the United States, France, Russia, Australia, Italy, Egypt, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Singapore. The exhibition exhibited more than 3,200 works. View gallery >>
Photographs Courtesy Yixian International Photography Festival. Pictured left to right in group picture: Fang Huanran, Deputy President of China Photo Press; Guo Jing, Host of Yixian International Photo Festival Opening Ceremony; Hu Ning, Vice chariman of the Political Consultative Conference of Huangshan City; Reza De Hadi, a French photographic artist; and Fang Huanran, Vice President of China Photographic Newspaper.
Special thanks to Chris Kovacs who connected with my work as part of Critical Mass Top 50, he has featured my work in the November / December 2018 issue of Mono Chroma magazine, a wonderful fine art photography resource. I was first introduced to Chris’s work at Classic Photographs LA in 2018 at the Susan Spiritus booth. Also featured: Daniel Garay Arango, Jane Szabo, Brett Leigh Dicks, Keith Ramsdell, Tara Cronin, and Ellen Keith.
The Unchosen Ones series featured with interview in the November / December 2018 issue of Mono Chroma magazine
R. J. Kern’s “The Unchosen Ones” shows a domesticated nature, one that humans and animals symbiotically share. It consists of 31 large color photographs taken at Minnesota county fairs. In front of a dark-gray background, Kern poses young people with a farm animal or two that he or she had entered into livestock competitions at the fairs. The animals are sheep or goats. None of the contestants won, hence the title: They weren’t chosen.
So the title is descriptive. It’s also ironic. Looking at what is clearly an emotional relationship between the creatures, one recognizes a different kind of choosing, of each other. Maybe accepting would be a better word. It’s telling that Kern’s captions usually give the animal’s name as well as the young person’s. There’s a mutuality here, maybe even a duality. This makes for a surpassing sweetness (not sentimentality) and seeming simplicity. Why seeming? There’s an unmistakable, if not clearly articulated, sense of fellow feeling. That fellow feeling finds an ideal counterpart in the combination of respect and curiosity that Kern brings to bear on it.
The Winter issue of Culture features fine-art work from The Unchosen Ones and Out To Pasture series. Lots of goodies in this well-designed magazine devoted to cheese lovers. I’ve enjoyed exploring new ways to engage audiences with my subject matter.
I will be signing books at Paris Photo 2018 at the Kehrer Verlag booth (SE6) 9 Nov, 4pm. See you then!
Made official today, I am happy to share the COLLECTOR’S EDITON of The Unchosen Ones (AP1) and the COLLECTOR’S EDITON of The Sheep and the Goats (AP6) have been accessioned into the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.
In June 2018, I flew to Tampa, Florida as part of the artist panel discussion artist in Triangulate, curated by Nathan Beard, Eivind Natvig, and Kirk Ke Wang at the Dunedin Fine Art Center, Dunedin, FL. After the exhibition opening and book signing, Nathan Beard and I drove to one of my favorite museums I visited as a kid, the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. A highlight was meeting with Robin O’Dell, Curator of the Photographic Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida (pictured).
As luck would have it, I shared with her my monograph, “The Unchosen Ones,” with an essay by independent curator Alison Nordström, PhD. O’Dell smiled and pointed out, “She was my advisor in graduate school at the George Eastman House.” Small world!
This effort opened up a few doors, and after a few months of patience and persistence, the effort has paid off! Thank you Nathan Beard, Alison Nordström, and Robin O’Dell being apart of this wonderful journey.
This is the second museum acquisition of the COLLECTOR’S EDITON of The Unchosen Ones and the fifth museum acquisition of the COLLECTOR’S EDITON of The Sheep and the Goats.
Thumbs up! I honored and humbled to be chosen for Critical Mass 2018 Top 50! I appreciate the support of Photolucida and the jurors for this oportunity to share my work. When I began this project, I never had sights on the critical-acclaim that would follow. I couldn’t have done this alone and appreciate the support mentors, my gallerists, and the trusting participants from “The Unchosen Ones” project, many who I reconnected with this summer, including Gabe at the MN State Fair two weeks ago.
Writes Espeland: "The large, lovely portrait of a young woman and her goat may stop you in your tracks. It’s an image from a series Kern calls “The Unchosen Ones.” Taken from the sidelines at 10 county fairs across Minnesota that lead up to the state fair, they show animals and their young handlers – but losers, not winners. These are not the pairs that will go on to glory at the big fair in the cities. Photographed against a simple gray backdrop, the subjects – children and teenagers, sheep and goats – are lit like old masters. They are luminous and dignified. If this is what losing looks like, maybe it’s not so terrible after all."
The Executive Director of the Minnesota Citizen's for the Arts (MCA), Sheila Smith, selected me for the “Great State of Minnesota” Award at the 2018 Fine Arts Exhibition held at the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, MN opening this week. I'm honored and humbled. When we met, I shared with her my enthusiasm for the art grants in Minnesota which have generously supported my fine-art career. MCA was the first independent organization to give a cash award to artists at the Minnesota State Fair that "honors an artist depicting Minnesota subject matter in a highly skillful way." I'm proud to grow roots in this great state!
On newsstands now, the July/August 2018 of Communication Arts magazine features work from my series, "The Unchosen Ones." The Photography Annual 59 issue is dedicated to featuring images that received an Award of Excellence 2018. Five images that appeared in the self-published book, The Unchosen Ones, were published from the same project featured in National Geographic magazine (November 2017). I'm grateful and honored for the recognition! I've admired the magazine since my high school art classes!
The Minnesota State Arts Board awarded me a 2018-2019 Artist Initiative Grant to showcase the series, "The Unchosen Ones" to the county fairs where the work was created in 2016 (also grant supported). I've been busy working on this project over the last few months, interviewing many of the participants in my project (some featured in National Geographic magazine), asking them life skills-related questions about their efforts raising their animal. My grant proposal included the construction of banner displays that would be exhibited at 6-8 fairs in Minnesota.
In addition, I built a website that showcases more about the project >> The Unchosen Ones.
I have successfully exhibited the book four times: first at the Hennepin History Museum, and then three fairs.
One of the most meaningful highlights so far from this project was reconnecting with kids from featured in the project. Thumbs up!
I’m pleased to announced my fine-art prints are now available through Burnet Fine Art & Advisory in Wayzata, Minnesota. Before moving to their new Wayzata location, the Burnet Gallery showcased contemporary art for 10 years in Le Méridien Chambers hotel in Minneapolis. The space celebrates art addressing contemporary issues.
My first solo exhibition with the gallery will open July 11 and run through September 1, 2018 and will feature works from all three of my series: Divine Animals: The Bovidae, The Unchosen Ones, and Out to Pasture. Opening reception July 11 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM.
I’m honored to share my monograph “The Sheep and the Goats” has been awarded "The Most Beautiful German Books 2018,” by Stiftung Buchkunst, the most popular book prize in Germany. This competition dates to 1929, making it one of the industry's first competitions to award the “exemplary in design, conception, and workmanship” as awarded by an independent jury. The book will be shown on several exhibitions and fairs in Europe including the Frankfurt Book Fair.
For perspective, the "first jury" of the 2018 competition had 729 entries in total. Of those, 247 were narrowed down by the "second jury" to 247. Of these, 25 were awarded.
“The Sheep and the Goats” published by Kehrer Verlag was among awarded in the Top 25. With introduction by Lisa Volpe, Associate Curator of Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; essay by George Slade; interview by Stuart Klipper. Designed by Kehrer Design (Maximiliane Hüls).
Commentary from the jury panel:
JUSTIFICATION FROM THE JURY: "Inside title literally"
"Many people are well aware of this indefinable feeling of coziness that sets in at the sight of a sheep. If that's the case, you can not always drive to the country for reassurance.Two full-page series of images now provide a remedy: one of sheep, one of goats. Sometimes in small groups, often as individual portraits, animals can be viewed patiently. The book starts in the middle, because the inside title actually stands between the two groups of pictures, and the shortened pages with explanatory texts form a natural fugue in the book block.
The photographs are ideal pictures of real landscapes. The animals in it are among the oldest companions and beneficial partners of humans. Through the atmosphere of Arcadian innocence, one dreams of the primordial harmony of man and nature. It overlooks all too easily the extent of the millennia-long cultural achievements that have shaped such landscapes with goat hunger and sheep's wool.
On the precise prints the animals appear as individuals, even as beings with personality. The scarce picture legend calls region and country, and: the name of the animal. Even if ironic tones are echoed in the photographic staging, she is serious in that she acknowledges the magical and long-lasting connection between the little ruminants and their habitat. Pan, the god of the shepherds, would greatly enjoy this volume."
The 25 finalists:
A perspective from the judging process: