Revolver magazine feature

Revolver magazine (April/ May 2019) features 13 photographs featured in The Sheep and the Goats, much of work not previously published. The design and text compliments the work. It was wonderful working with Jimmy Hubbard and I appreciate for the opportunity to collaborate! Hits news stands May 14, until then here’s a sneak peek >>

Revolver magazine features (April / May 2019) the photographs of R. J. Kern

Revolver magazine features (April / May 2019) the photographs of R. J. Kern

LENSCRATCH Juried Exhibition

I’m proud to be a juror of my first juried exhibition at Lenscratch for a topic near and dear to my heart: the 2019 Ordinary Animals Exhibition. Congratulations to Janet Holmes for being first place winner.

My juror statement:

“Lewis Hine said a wonderful thing a long time ago: “We should be photographing two things. The things that should be put right and the things that should be appreciated.” David Hurn used to have this quote on his wall when he was teaching. When I learned of this, it made me appreciate that a Magnum photographer such as David Hurn didn’t have to be a war photographer to create an important image. There are subjects more on the domestic side that interest me more. Hope, humor, empathy are qualities I value in a photograph.

I kept the Lewis Hine quote in the back of my head when I was reviewing the 100+ submissions for the “Ordinary Creatures” online exhibition on Lenscratch. I realize the challenge of submitting work to juried exhibitions with a single digital file. Yet, I realized that challenge is a good one: we should submit work that becomes a little teaser, beckoning the viewer to see more, ask more questions, and to think. In addition, I wanted the pixels on my laptop screen in front of me to warm my heart. I enjoyed work that was thoughtfully balanced composition and light with a moment. I’m a sucker for long-term, personal projects filled with warmth and humanity. If there was a hint of this I could see in the work, it became a winner in my book.”

Click here to view the work >>

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 12.48.50 AM copy.jpg

ČILICHILI magazine feature

Czechoslovakia’s arts & culture magazine, ČILICHILI, published a selection of my work from “The Unchosen Ones” and Divine Animals: The Bovidae” series, in the March 2019 issue.

ČILICHILI magazine feature (March 2019) features the photographs by R. J. Kern.

ČILICHILI magazine feature (March 2019) features the photographs by R. J. Kern.

Masur Museum of Art Exhibition

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!


Participating Artists:

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

6th International Open Call, juried by Aline Smithson

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).

Commemorative Artist for 2019 Minnesota State Fair

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

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 >>

“R. J. Kern named 2019 State Fair Commemorative Artist,” by Pamela Espeland, MinnPost, dated Jan 30, 2019.

“R. J. Kern named 2019 State Fair Commemorative Artist,” by Pamela Espeland, MinnPost, dated Jan 30, 2019.

Upcoming 2019 juried exhibitions

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)

getty-logo-1200x1195 copy.jpg

Exhibition in China

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.

Review of 2018 Yixian International Photography Festival

Mono Chroma Magazine feature

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

Boston Globe review

"At the Griffin, photo shows that visit the animal kingdom” written by Mark Feeney, The Boston Globe, November 15, 2018 >>

Writes Feeney:

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 Unchosen Ones, Out to Pasture” exhibition review

"The Unchosen Ones, Out to Pasture” exhibition review at the Griffin Museum of Photography was reviewed by Elin Spring on “What Will You Remember” in her article, “Exalting the Ordinary.”

The solo exhibition is on view through December 2nd, 2018. Click to read >>

Feature Image: “Kennedy and Palamino, Anoka County Fair, Minnesota, 2016” and “Palamino and Friends, Anoka County, Minnesota, USA” © R. J. Kern, Courtesy of Burnet Fine Art & Advisory, MN and Klompching Gallery, NY.

Feature Image: “Kennedy and Palamino, Anoka County Fair, Minnesota, 2016” and “Palamino and Friends, Anoka County, Minnesota, USA” © R. J. Kern, Courtesy of Burnet Fine Art & Advisory, MN and Klompching Gallery, NY.

Critical Mass 2018 Top 50!

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.

>> See Critical Mass 2018 Top 50 winners here.


MinnPost Feature

"The Minnesota State Fair’s Fine Arts Exhibition celebrates the art of the state" written by Pamela Espeland of MinnPost on August 29, 2018 >>

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."

R. J. Kern with “Kenzie and Hootie, Anoka County Fair, Minnesota, 2016”, MinnPost photo by John Whiting

R. J. Kern with “Kenzie and Hootie, Anoka County Fair, Minnesota, 2016”, MinnPost photo by John Whiting

“The Great State of Minnesota” Award

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!


Communication Arts Photography Annual 59

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!