Second Thought (also known as "My Neighbor"), recto; East Side, verso
Dox Thrash headed the Graphic Arts division of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Philadelphia from 1935 to 1942, during which time he invented the carborundum printmaking process. Carbordundum is a coarse, granular industrial product made of carbon and silicone, traditionally used for grinding and polishing. Thrash used the material to clean lithographic stones and subsequently discovered its ability to pit the surface of copper etching plates in subtle graduations. By burnishing areas of the pitted plate where he did not want ink to hold, the artist defined his imagery. The overall effect is related to the mezzotint, which is typically characterized by rich intaglio impressions. Thrash made this rare double sided print during his tenure at the Philadelphia WPA. The dual images--one a dignified portrait of an African American in reverie ('Second Thought') and the other a scene of the Philadelphia waterfront with a worker, railroad, and skyline ('East Side')--represent the two major focuses of Thrash's work; portraiture and urban/industrial landscapes.