Dox to Light: The Life and Works of Dox Thrash

October 20 - November 17, 2023

Dene M. Louchheim Galleries
Fleisher Art Memorial

Dox Thrash was born in 1893 in Griffin, GA. After a difficult childhood shaped by the cruel realities of racism, Jim Crow laws, and poverty that characterized the American South in the post-Civil War period, Thrash left home at the age of 15 to seek opportunities in the north. He would make his way to Chicago to find steady work; this period also marked the start of Thrash’s artistic career with his first classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

After serving in World War I, Thrash would return to his art studies in Chicago, eventually moving to Philadelphia and settling into a community of Black creatives that he would champion for the rest of his life. Fairly quickly, Thrash found his way to the Graphic Sketch Club in South Philadelphia—now Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial (Fleisher)—where his experimentation and innovation in printmaking processes would become one of his most significant contributions to the art world.

Dox to Light: The Life and Works of Dox Thrash features early sketches, prints, and more experimental pieces from the artist’s later years. In addition to highlighting the evolution of Thrash’s style and technique, the collection illustrates his critical role as a mentor and friend to an entire generation of up-and-coming artists, and his centrality as a community organizer.

This exhibition is made possible through a collaboration with the McIntosh Rollins Foundation, which manages the collection of Dr. Esther Rollins and David McIntosh. The collection is a unique amalgamation of works by Dox Thrash, privately gifted to a family that the artist counted among his closest friends. For the McIntosh Rollins family, Thrash’s art punctuated their lives in a formative way. In sharing this collection with the public for the first time, they offer an intimate opportunity to experience its collective impact.

Fleisher presents this exhibition as part of its 125th anniversary year programming to highlight its mission of providing art access to Philadelphians regardless of artistic ability or economic means. Thrash’s legacy serves as an enduring inspiration for artists at all stages of their creative pursuits, including many who frequent Fleisher’s classrooms and studios to this day.

Dox to Light: The Life and Works of Dox Thrash is made possible by the generous support of the Edna W. Andrade Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation. The exhibition is organized by the McIntosh Rollins Foundation in collaboration with Fleisher Art Memorial, with contributions from Dolan/Maxwell.


Image: Dox Thrash, Grinder, c. 1940, carborundum mezzotint, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches, courtesy of the McIntosh Rollins Foundation.