Screwtape  Bestiary

Artist Books and Mixed Media

Inspired by the writings of C.S. Lewis.

Read Screwtape Bestiary Artist Statement below

Inspired by C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters

    What is the purpose of horror and evil in stories? How do monsters, demons, and villains add to the good, if at all, of tales? The pieces in this series contain my reactions and thoughts to these proposed questions. Most of my research on story telling and myth-making comes from authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, looking to address these questions based on their theories of the necessity of evil. In his work, On Stories, Lewis suggests that nature has it in her to make us want to invent giants, and “only giants will do.” What does Lewis mean by the fact that only “giants” will satisfy this story telling urge? The very fact that the monster/villain could in a sense be viewed as less than human adds to how the reader/viewer relates to the conflict in the story. Dehumanization is one of the most convincing and effective forms of evil within a story. Tolkien’s theories agree and add to this idea of dehumanization and the necessity of evil in a story. Tolkien coined the terms “dyscatastrophe” and “eucatastrophe” to talk about these ideas of evil as building blocks of an effective story. Tolkien’s ideas highlight one of the roles that evil can play in a story, that of adding to and bringing about redemption. The darkness paves the way for redemption to seem as bright as it is. The evil gives truth an even greater platform upon which to shine.
     The pieces that I have created in this series add to these ideas of the necessity of evil within the story. Taking inspiration from Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, the pieces form stories about the antagonists. Rather than assigned to Wormwood, each demon/monster created for this series is given a task of tempting, based on the letters that Screwtape writes concerning those patients he aims to draw into ruin. The large-scale drawn portraits also document these horrific creatures. 
    The particular topics from Screwtape that are explored in this series are the most effective in rendering this idea of monstrosity because they are ideas and vices that I see constantly reappearing within myself. I can see the monster that sneaks in unawares, and, as Screwtape describes, on “the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”