By Clare Howard
Pamela Ayres and Kaz
McCue perceive problems and joys of life through the context of art. The
genesis of their marriage is art. The focus of their work and play is
art. Their love and bitterness are expressed through art.
An exhibit of their work, Tongue in Chic: 2 Perspectives,
is hanging at Illinois Central College in East Peoria through March 4.
An artist reception open to the public is from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday.
The show in gallery 305A of the colleges administration building
includes more than a dozen installations with nearly 155 elements. Some
are interactive pieces.
The couple work in different states, at different universities and in
different media. Ayres, 37, is director of university galleries, exhibitions
and collections at Peorias Bradly University. McCue, 40, is director
of the University Art Gallery at Indiana State University in Terre Haute,
Ind. They are curators, teachers, artists, and spouses.
The couple met in graduate school at Long Island University, C.W. Post
Campus, where they both received masters of fine arts degrees.
I was immediately attracted to her. I loved her work. She didnt
want anything to do with me, McCue said.
Ayres countered that she was focused and working hard. They gradually
became friends and then allies for each others work. They were married
1997 and continue to evolve as artists and allies.
Artists should play a more important role in community. Art should
be used as a healing tool. Artists are shamans, Ayres said. We
dont look at art as jobs. Its our life
a tool of expression
"Artists who are married communicate through visual media,"
The two worked together with inner city kids teaching art to children
All kids today have fewer channels of expression. Art is a vital
channel of expression. When that is removed, expression is more difficult,
Ayres said. In other societies, art is embedded in the fabric of
culture. Here there is a disconnect.
He said, In American culture, art doesnt make society better.
Thats one of our problems with our kids. We are not giving them
adequate ways to express themselves. Computer games dont give kids
adequate opportunities for self-expression.
The two cite a government study showing inner-city programs that expose
children to the arts can document corresponding improvements in analytical
abilities and test scores.
Philosophy, ideas and outlook on art are communicated through the works
of both artists. An appraisal of the exhibition said it features a variety
of innovative works that play with the relationship between form and concept:
Ayres work is materially sensitive and contrary while McCue
works towards sarcastic insight.
One of Ayres pieces in the show includes dozens of tongue prints
in different colors denoting talk about art, emotion, truth, and knowledge.
One of McCues pieces is Forget, a mixed media installation
with video. The two panels show images of his mother and father and evoke
connections between memory, dementia, aging and family.
McCues elderly mother lives with him. He says the piece is not a
sentimental communication about loss of a mothers memory. Forget
worked as a trigger that forced him to evaluate his own thinking about
aging and relationships.
I was a different person before my dad died when I was in high school.
I was an honor student and athlete at one of the best Catholic high schools
in the country, he said. I went from that to pissing away
my life after my father died. I came back through art. This piece helps
me reconnect with some of my memories.
He compares his work to an onion with many layers that can be pulled away.
He usually buries meaning in his pieces.
The couple have been included together in exhibits in the past, but never
before the ICC show have their works comprised the entire exhibit. This
opportunity came about at the suggestion of Stephen H. Knight, associate
professor of art at ICC and assistant gallery director.
They are a very unusual team. They are a married couple, and their
relationship is reflected in their art. This show communicates well,
McCues background is photography, ceramics, sculpture and printmaking.
Ayres background is painting and sculpture. They both curated at
The University Gallery/University of Bridgeport in Connecticut before
accepting their current positions.
As a team, Ayres said they magnify their impact.
When we work together, there are four of us instead of two of us.
We have drive, energy and skills that keystone each other, she said.
Together, we are able to do what individually we couldnt do.