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.

One isn’t born a winner or loser, but a chooser. This theme I explore 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 project consists of over 60 portraits made at 10 Minnesota county fairs in 2016. The photographs showcase the subject facing the camera, allowing the viewer to decide what connects and distinguishes these subjects.

With a vantage point straight onto the figures, the direct stance portrayed develops a typology, showcasing individual styles and characteristics. With a serial and systematic approach, the human condition is exposed in real-time.

- R. J. Kern

This series won a Portfolio Award in the 2019 San Francisco Bay International Photography Awards.

R. 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 notable exhibitions, including the Museum of Modern Art (Tbilisi, Georgia), the National Portrait Gallery (London, UK), the Yixian International Photography Festival (Anhui, China), and a solo exhibition at the Griffin Museum of Photography (Boston, MA). 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).

Kern’s work has been presented in a number of publications, including a feature in National Geographic (November 2017 )and he 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.

Collections include Center for Creative Photography, Griffin Museum of Photography, Leepa–Rattner Museum of Art, General Mills Corporate Collection, Plains Art Museum, Masur Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.

He is represented by the Klompching Gallery, New York and Burnet Fine Art & Advisory, Minnesota.

Visit R. J. Kern’s site