Meet ‘Miss Moody’

May 29, 2023, 9:35 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — Ceramic artist Christina Riccio can laugh about something that’s not very funny – anxiety and depression.

“I try because my struggles internally are so difficult to deal with. I try to have a little bit of a sense of humor about just to kind of make it easier for myself to deal with and to talk about with other people,” Riccio said.

That sense of humor shows up in a series of clay figures called “Miss Moody,” her version of the “Precious Moments” figurines she received every birthday during her childhood.

“(They) were these little, like innocent looking girls that were always doing some kind of play that was like, vaguely related to the age or something like that,” she said. “I was almost projecting myself onto those figurines. Like, maybe I can be that.”

Ceramic artist Christina Riccio explaining how she came up with the character, “Miss Moody.” (KSL TV)

Instead, because she was struggling internally with something she didn’t understand, she was called “moody.”

So instead of a doe-eyed cherub labeled “Growing in grace,” “Dance like no one is watching,” or “Make your own sunshine,” the Miss Moody pieces are labeled “Binge-eating,” “Oversharing,” “Sedation,” and “Thought spiraling.”

Riccio, who has been an instructor at the University of Utah Department of Art in another series called “Manifestations,” portrayed mental illness as a kind of monster, a little tentacled, toothed creature.

“It (anxiety) almost starts as this small thought, and then my brain, almost like the manifestation, like a little monster grabs onto it, and just goes over and over and over again,” she expressed.

An oversized “Miss Moody” behind her artist Christina Riccio. (KSL TV)

At the far end of her studio, an oversized “Miss Moody” sits and sulks. Weighing in at a formidable 300 lbs., it’s hard to ignore the “Miss Moody” in the room. Perhaps that’s part of the point, that mental illness shouldn’t be dismissed as just being “moody.”

Riccio’s work will be included in an exhibit at the University of Utah’s Gittens Gallery from Aug. 21 – Sept. 26.

She just accepted a year residency at the Saratoga Clay Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY.

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Meet ‘Miss Moody’