Kenzi and Hootie, Anoka County Fair, Minnesota, 2016

Virtual Exhibit >>
Exhibit: April 3 to May 30, 2020
Opening Reception: Cancelled

Interview with RJ Kern and Katie Carter (KAXE) >>

One isn’t born a winner or loser, but a chooser. This theme is explored in this series. As we look at them, they look back, allowing us to think about how we choose winners and the repercussions for the ones not chosen.

The Unchosen Ones takes place on the sidelines of county fair animal contests in Minnesota in 2016. These county fairs lead up to the Minnesota State Fair, one of the largest and best-attended expositions in the world.

The work debuted as a feature in National Geographic magazine (November 2017), has been exhibited in venues such as the National Portrait Gallery (London, UK) and the Yixian International Photography Festival (Anhui, China). Awards and accolades include PDN’s 30 2018, Critical Mass 2018 Top 50, CENTER 2017 Choice Award Winner, Curator’s Choice (First Place), and two Artist Initiative Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board (2016, 2018). The BBC, PBS, and the Boston Globe have featured the work as well. The wide response to the work underscores the interest that the general public has in art and the relationship to science.

The Artist Book Edition, The Unchosen Ones, will be available for sale directly from Kern at the reception. It includes essays by independent curator Alison Nordström, PhD and Joe Scapanski, Minnesota State Fair Board of Managers. Designed by Matthew Steaffens.

RJ KernR. J. Kern (b. 1978) is an American artist whose work explores ideas of home, ancestry, and a sense of place through the interaction of people, animals, and cultural landscapes.

His work has been exhibited in a number of notable exhibitions, including the Museum of Modern Art (Tbilisi, Georgia), the National Portrait Gallery (London, UK), the Yixian International Photography Festival (Anhui, China), and solo exhibitions at the Griffin Museum of Photography (Boston, MA) and the Plains Art Museum (Fargo, ND). Kern’s work and books have been exhibited at art fairs such as Paris Photo and Classic Photographs LA, as well as at galleries nationwide, most recently Klompching Gallery in NY, Burnet Fine Art & Advisory in Minneapolis, and Afterimage Gallery in Dallas. Awards and accolades include PDN’s 30 2018, Critical Mass 2018 Top 50, CENTER 2017 Choice Award Winner (Curator’s Choice, First Place), the 2017 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize (Finalist), and three Artist Initiative Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board (2016, 2018, 2020). He was the Commemorative Artist for the 2019 Minnesota State Fair.

Kern’s work has been presented in a number of publications, including a feature in National Geographic (November 2017), with his series The Unchosen Ones and Out To Pasture. Kern published his first monograph with Kehrer Verlag titled, The Sheep and the Goats, awarded one of “The Most Beautiful German Books 2018” by Stiftung Buchkunst and awarded Bronze by the prestigious Deutscher Fotobuchpreis 2018-19.

R. J. Kern is a fiscal year 2016, 2018, and 2020 recipient of the Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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