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“The Unchosen Ones” 4-H Photography Exhibition and Events with R.J. Kern

September 8 @ 5:00 pm - September 9 @ 5:00 pm CDT

book cover featuring the title and photographer over an image of a teen girl with a goat

In conjunction with “The Unchosen Ones” exhibition of his photographs of Minnesota State Fair participants who did not win Grand Champion, photographer R.J. Kern will speak about his experience with the project, as well as the evolution and history of agricultural photography and processes. All events will take place at the Elkhorn Valley Museum in Norfolk.

Friday, September 8
5-7 pm The Unchosen Ones exhibition reception and talk (talk at 6pm)
Watch and learn with storytelling by R. J. Kern on life lessons learned from participants in his project, The Unchosen Ones, who showed animals at Minnesota county fairs and did not win. Participants 4 years later offer wisdom learned to others fellow 4-Hers.
Saturday, September 9
9am – 1pm Pinhole Photography Workshop
Students will learn to make and use their own pinhole camera to create silver gelatin photographs using found materials and natural light. Students are encouraged to bring snacks, a printed photograph of themself and/or family, and a fun object they would like to include in their photograph (no larger than the size of an open hand— a small toy like a car, action figure, doll, stuffed animal, would work great. Ages: 4th Grade and Up. Max attendance: 14. To register, contact the Elkhorn Valley Museum 402-371-3886.

2pm – On Being a National Geographic agricultural photographer

Learn what it is like firsthand to create and publish photographs by a National Geographic photographer, showcasing the agricultural roots of county fairs.
2:30 pm – History of Agricultural Photography 101
Did you know some of the first photographs we see are of prize-winning animals? The birth of photography and animal fairs were mid-19th century experiences both have been shaped by technology over the last 150 years. Learn how animal husbandry has been shaped by photography since 1850.
3:00 – 4:00pm – Historical Photography Demonstration &  iPhoneography Tips for Your Award-Winning Photography
Learn how R. J. Kern creates tintype photographs, using the Civil War-era wet plate collodion process. Photography means “writing with light,” so how can we shape to take our best photographs? Learn tips and tricks on seeing and using light from an award-winning photographer.

R. J. Kern is an American artist whose work investigates ideas of home, ancestry, and a sense of place. His portraits focus on intimate, interdependent relationships of people, animals, and landscape as a means of exploring how ancestry shapes identity and how myth intertwines with personal history. His camera has led him from an inquiry into his lineage in the farming communities of Scandinavia and Ireland to the examination of similar communities near his home in Minnesota. Increasingly, his attention has been captured by the next generation of young people, who may or may not be the stewards of rural communities and economies in the future.

Inspired by master landscape painters of the 19th-century, Kern embraces the heightened expressivity of natural and artificial lighting techniques. To draw sharper connections between traditional and modern farming routines, he adopts both historical and current photographic processes. While illuminating the ephemeral beauty of youth, Kern probes the current realities of agrarian practices, aspiring to enhance awareness and interest in the changing face of American pastoral life.


September 8 @ 5:00 pm CDT
September 9 @ 5:00 pm CDT
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Elkhorn Valley Museum
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Elkhorn Valley Museum
515 Queen City Blvd.
Norfolk, NE 68701 United States
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