I had to decide: Should I change the name, Natural Renderings? In the end, I chose to stay with it, because the words perfectly describe my art. Why should I let a minor-but-repulsive association keep me from using it? After all, each print is a direct interpretation, rendition, depiction, translation, and perspective representation of a real object in Nature. It is not, however, a melting process, like the one used in agriculture.
As a writer, I appreciate the variety of meanings words can have in this crazy English language. Like many others, the verb “to render” has numerous and conflicted definitions. Of the first 15 mentions in my Random House College Dictionary, my product matches every one. I cause to become. I make. I perform, furnish, show, and present for consideration. I pay as due what I believe is a reciprocal gift to Nature. I formally deliver my humble translation of Nature’s words into a painting or drawing whereby I interpret the drama that is the living ecosystem. And I am engaged in this art to give in return; to give back, restore; and to give up, surrender, always to Nature. It is only when the discussion turns to coating with plaster or getting oil from fat and blubber do the word’s meaning fail.
I will stick with the name and accept this entanglement to the “natural renderings” of animal mortality and waste, in part because I refuse to sidestep the paradox. Outside the dictionary, the very word “Nature” conjures a multitude of conflicting meanings depending on the person doing the thinking. Some are gracious and some are repulsive. I believe we can take, but unlike others, I am bounded by the need to give in return. What I harvest with respect another will grab with greed. Where I see a being with a purpose, they see a thing useful only to themselves.
No, this isn’t about turning cattle carcasses into fertilizer. It’s about capturing a moment in a living being’s life–one that’s willing to sacrifice itself to the page–so that it might help others notice what I see.