Holter Museum Executive Director steps down, focusing on mental health

Sculpture with Flower.jpg
Posted at 5:14 PM, Oct 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-25 09:50:00-04

HELENA — Executive Director of the Holter Museum of Art Chris Riccardo has stepped down from the position to focus on his mental health and pursue his art. MTN sat down with Riccardo to talk about the transition.

For many, these past couple of years have been a trying time. A worldwide pandemic changed the way we do things and caused collective trauma in its wake. This caused a much more honest and open conversation surrounding mental health.

“If I don't do this, if I continue to do that job, or whatever in life, and it kills you, then what's the point So, we're taking this huge risk, but the community around me has been so incredible,” says Riccardo.

Riccardo recently stepped down on October 21 after six years at the Holter Museum. And is choosing to focus on his mental state and his art.

Riccardo has struggled with anxiety and depression for his whole life. After the stress of keeping a non-profit organization afloat during a pandemic, Riccardo decided it was time to take his mental health and dream career into his own hands.

The artist told MTN he plans to do this by focusing on his physical health and diving into his art. He hopes to make his art his full-time job and is stepping out on a limb in order to make this dream a reality. His primary work is creating ceramic sculptures.

Riccardo finds healing in the act of creating. And he has found this to be the case for others, as well.

“...worked with vets, hardened vets, like, you know, been in Afghanistan and Iraq and all kinds of medications; don't even know who they are anymore. Get them into the studio, get them working, and in six months some of them are off medication. You know, it was incredible,” says Riccardo.

The Holter Museum of Art, under their Holter Healing Arts initiative, has multiple programs for helping those in the community to utilize art in order to work through mental health issues. Riccardo hopes to utilize a new studio space in order to help continue this sort of work.

Riccardo wants to encourage others to speak up for what they need and create space to take care of their mental health. Fortunately, the conversation around mental health is becoming less stigmatized. People are recognizing that taking care of your mentality is not only necessary but the strong and brave thing to do.

“Yeah, first thing I guess would just be, is to find somebody that you can confide in and talk to. And it doesn't have to be a doctor. I mean, it's friends, family. It's hard, but I think the minute you do it, you know, it just, it opens everything up,” says Riccardo.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988.

A new Executive Director for the Holter Museum has yet to be announced.