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Artists don Altered Egos at Young Blood

Freud gave a name to our malleable self-image: the ego, a term that spawned words like self-esteem and self-affirmation at the same time it put the finger on egocentrism, egomania and egotism. Young Atlantans Debi Boyette, Sherri Caudell, Tricia Patterson, Christian Gordy and Critter Jiminez, self-described as "five degenerates," present Altered Egos at Young Blood Gallery this month. Calling themselves pseudo artists, they take on pseudo personas and pseudonyms to air their quirky colorful self-expressions. "You'll never have too many mice," Gordy's gooey abstract collage painting, was created by his claustrophobic self. Gordy's real chef d'oeuvre is the bulletin board that his "Booga G" self crammed with the flotsam and jetsam of his wandering aesthetic journey from 1978 to present. It's a textured wall of scribbled notes, letters, photo copies, stickers and Polaroids he took of his action figure toys at the age of 6, photos of tattoos and men's shoes, awkward paste-ups and drawings, drawings, drawings. His small portraits, cartoon character, aliens, doodles and graffiti document a style in constant flux. The nostalgic pack rat even saved a coloring book nativity scene signed "Crischun." A small shelf beside his papered wall situates some of Gordy's domestic source material. But how could Ramen noodles compete with a rubber lobster, a red doll's head crowned in white roosters, a plastic gorilla, voodoo candles and a plastic nose in a small hinged jewelry box?

Boyette takes over the dark side of Altered Egos, but not without a wincing smile. Having been psychologically damaged by her wicked stepsister, Boyette becomes "Missy Society" to create "My sister is." In a sequence of blue, red, yellow and green frames, she transforms a childhood image of her stepsister from a sinister angel into a live-chicken-eating demon. Missy Society also shows a very funny series of photo booth pix with naughty puppets and stuffed animals that smoke and drink beer.

"Miss Understood" takes over for two distracted paintings about Boyette's therapy sessions inhabited with shadowy insects, multiple heads and repeating phrases "Imagination and Reality" and "He's No Fool." She's "Miss Lead" for the untitled collage painting about her painful relationship with her stepmother. Red paint surrounds a yellowed, torn page from a dictionary where "selfless," "self-control" and "self-denial" have been crossed out, while selfish and self-centered are underlined. Splayed out like fingers are fragments of an emotion-filled handwritten letter to her stepmother and returned to Boyette with grammar and spelling corrections.

Sherri Caudell, known here as "Jane De Beauvoir," is responsible for the messy teen-toned collages with the bubblegum titles "ABC," "123" and "Twiggy." The altered ego of her housewife mother is described in "Marriage Is Fun." Collaged beneath a small rusty broiler grate are a wedding cake turned on its ear, cheerful bouquets of flowers and a smiling photoportrait of her young mom. "She's trapped under the stove," explains Caudell.

A shoe fetish preoccupies Tricia Patterson, who takes the alias "Patty Cakes" for her group of assemblages. Patty fished in thrift stores and trash bins for children's and doll shoes, then enshrined them grunge-style in boxes or suspended from strings on rectangles of pasty pastel canvases and wood. Her "Susan Carter" self chose to paint abstractions centered on repeating red gourds and red-eyed eggs in settings textured and shaped with ripped bits of masking tape.

Critter keeps her name, probably because of her ego's plans to be the next hot designer. She indulges herself in three frocks that wobble between new wave and frump. They could definitely walk down the street in L5P without a wink. Topped with a ruffled apricot stand up collar, "Stars and Stripes" is made of a pink flowered fabric trimmed in black lace hem tape and gathered in little poufs around the torso. Critter tops the also flowery "Big Poofy Skirt" with a gray felt vest.

Exploring their other than everyday selves, these artists play at self-analysis in what turns out to be a funny, fun and artful affirmation of altered egos.

Altered Egos is on display through Sept. 3 at Youngblood Gallery, 629 Glenwood Ave. 404-627-0393.



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