In 1911, at the age of 15, Georgia native Dox Thrash (1893-1965) left the South in search of a better life. He first settled in Chicago, where he took night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago and launched his artistic career. Thrash served in combat during World War I and eventually settled in Philadelphia. Accustomed to making ends meet with a number of odd jobs, including a stint in the circus and as a bellboy, janitor, and house painter, Thrash used the rich material of his everyday experiences as inspiration for his art. From visceral images of labor and Depression-era unrest that he created while working for the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, to recollections of his childhood in the rural South, Thrash’s art chronicles, in the period of a few years, a journey that extended a lifetime. His works offer not only one man’s observations but also a broad view of the larger cultural and political environment facing African-Americans at the dawn of the Civil Rights Era.
This exhibition will present 43 works on paper by Thrash, including watercolors, relief prints, lithographs, etchings and carborundum mezzotints – created using an innovative etching process Thrash invented. The exhibition will also highlight the High’s recent acquisition of a print by Thrash titled Georgia Cotton Crop (1944-45).