CHARLES DEMUTH, MY EGYPT, 1927
Explore American monuments.
Fascinated by the American industrial landscape of the 1920s, Charles Demuth painted a pair of steel and concrete grain-storage elevators belonging to John W. Eshelman & Sons in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They were located in the rural community where Demuth was born and where his family had lived since the late eighteenth century. The title of the painting—My Egypt—suggests that Demuth saw the grain elevators as American monuments, equivalent to the pyramids of ancient Egypt.
Lead a discussion with your students about why Demuth might have called this painting My Egypt. What building or object would your students choose to represent a contemporary version of My Egypt? Ask your students to draw or paint an object or building that they consider new, exciting, or spectacular in the United States today. Share and discuss students’ drawings or paintings. What did they choose as their Egypt? Why?