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Hank Willis Thomas and Ryan Alexiev


HANK WILLIS THOMAS (b. 1976, Plainfield, NJ; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture.


His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad including the International Center of Photography, New York; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, and the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Netherlands.


Solo exhibitions of his work have been featured at Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Bentonville, AK; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO, and the African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA, among others.


Major group exhibitions of his work include the 2017 inaugural show at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa; P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Zacheta National Museum of Art, Poland; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, and the 2006 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, Orange County, CA.


Thomas’ work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C


Ryan Alexiev was born in Los Angeles and raised in Alaska by Bulgarian immigrants. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of California at Berkeley in 1994 and an MFA from the California College of the Arts in 2007. Ryan currently teaches in the Graduate Design program at California College of the Arts, his Alma Mater.

As an artist, Ryan had his first solo show in 2003 at the Orchidea Gallery of the Sofia Cultural Center in Bulgaria, his parent’s native country. Subsequently, he has exhibited at galleries across the country including the the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg,The Moore Space in Miami, Wadsworth Atheneum, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the Armory Show in New York.

Breakfast of Champions 
Edition of 100, hand-signed and numbered,
Archival Pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 100% cotton rag paper.
40" x 30" (76 x 102 cm)

“Breakfast of Champion” comments on the iconization and consumerization of the President of the United States. The piece appropriates the religious imagery of Byzantine mosaics to create a sugar cereal image of President Obama. Does the election of Barack Obama symbolize a victory of substance over cynicism or of packaging over product? The mosaic proposes the question: “Is Barack Obama a modern messiah in the world of politics or marketing?

Perhaps he is both. Only time will tell. Underneath the glossy surface of the piece is the artists’ attempt to understand how to critique and question something they too are seduced by. (An idea we were trying to get at) - The sugary sweet mosaic, made of thousands of cereal bits, depicts idea of what a healthily balanced breakfast (democracy) might look like when considering the role that marketing plays in myth building around corporate and political brands.


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