"The Sheep and the Goats" photobook & COLLECTOR'S EDITION

Edition of 50 (signed and numbered)

UPDATE: The Center for Creative Photography, The Plains Art Museum, Griffin Museum of Photography, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (TX), and the Museum of Fine Arts in St Petersburg (FL) have acquired the COLLECTOR'S EDITION of "The Sheep and the Goats" for their public collection.

"The Sheep and the Goats" represents two bodies of work, The Bovidae: Divine Animals and Out to Pasture, in visual conversation. The work calls attention to the cultural landscapes surrounding domesticated animals. The Bovidae: Divine Animals looks at animals and environments in Kern’s ancestral heritage: Ireland, Germany, Norway, and Iceland. Out to Pasture responds as a meditation on rural America from his home state of Minnesota, USA. Together, these projects offer perspective on the meaning of pastoral in contemporary time. Among Kern’s influences are landscape painters of the nineteenth century, especially regarding the use of light and composition.

Trade Edition includes an 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). Hardcover. 9.1 x 11.8 inches (23.2 x 30 cm). 120 pages, 52 color illustrations. Retail price: US $50.


  • SIGNED Limited Edition, archival inkjet PRINT on archival paper (8 x 10 inches)  from a choice of two images (1/25)

  • 50 signed and numbered copies of book (6 APs)

  • Customized wool felt book sleeve. Every sleeve is different.

  • National Geographic magazine (November 2017) will feature three images featured in the book

  • Two relics included

  • All Trade Edition details

Retail price:$575. Pricing to increase as edition sells out.

Two relics inside

A custom wool felt sleeve will wrap the book created specifically for the book in collaboration with textile artist Karen Aakre. Raw materials are sourced from a Minnesota goat and sheep featured in the book.

Custom pocket for National Geographic

Each COLLECTOR'S EDITION of "The Sheep and the Goats" will feature a custom sleeve with the November 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine. Three images which appear in the book are each featured as spreads in the magazine.


COLLECTOR'S CHOICE: A Sheep or a Goat?

Curly and Escapé, were among the bovidae, members of the goat and sheep animal family. And both played an important role in my development as an artist years ago. These two were among my earliest subjects and you can read more about them here. Knowing our roots today helps us understand where we came from. These shining examples of their breed make me smile each time I see them.

Each digital inkjet print on archival paper is signed and numbered on verso, edition of 25, and sized at 8 x 10 inches. Your choice of either Escapé (pron. es cahp é) or Curly. Specify your preference below. Subject to availability.

Escapé (pron. es cahp é), Benton County, Minnesota, 2015.

Escapé (pron. es cahp é), Benton County, Minnesota, 2015.

Curly, Otter Trail County, Minnesota, 2015.

Curly, Otter Trail County, Minnesota, 2015.

COLLECTOR'S EDITION: "The Sheep and the Goats"
Print Choice:
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Introduction by Lisa Volpe:

In R. J. Kern’s portrait, the sitter seems to possess wisdom and selfassurance. Maybe it’s the sitter’s slight tilt of the head, a posture of confidence and certainty. Or it could be the determined glare that stares down the camera lens. Perhaps it is the silvered hair, shot through with patches of white. This sign of age suggests it is wisdom born of experience. Or it could be the calm confidence that is conveyed in his unperturbed stillness, though storm clouds swirl in the distance. This goat is poised and wise. Animals have always been a canvas onto which mankind projects emotions or ideas. Kern’s personal examination of his ancestry in Ireland, Germany, Norway, and Iceland resulted in an artistic project in which goats and sheep represent issues of identity and history.
Kern’s evocation of nature as a device to understand his own sense of self draws upon historical precedence: the use of animals as metaphor and the pastoral tradition. Yet the artist’s broad concept— his exploration of identity—is firmly grounded in a contemporary context. This tightly knit series of images, which together characterize the author, is common to our age of social media. Kern’s aesthetic, however, emphasizes clarity and projects a warm stillness that is a balm to an overstimulated society. This contrast too—the ties to digital media and the rejection of its characteristics—deepens this pastoral project. Yes, it is a photograph of a goat, but it is also more than that. Just as man’s relationship with the animal world is multifaceted, so too is Kern’s work.

– From the introduction by Lisa Volpe, Associate Curator of Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston