Winter Clings To Parts Of Us

My mother broke her collar bone twice in her youth. For years she experienced pain in her chest and shoulder. While visiting an alternative healer in Hawaii, she was informed that an ancestor of hers had his chest smashed in a dramatic accident. The healer explained that the pain was not just her own but a cellular memory contained in her genetic code of the accident experienced by her deceased relative. He told her that our cells carry the lives and memories of generations and that these memories, while not consciously accessible, are still active and imprinted on our beings, causing us to feel and behave in ways we may not fully comprehend. We are all tied together through this shared cellular history. After leaving the healing session, she later remembered and confirmed, a story her mother told her while growing up, about a terrible mine car accident, in which her grandfather was thrown from the car, crushing his chest.

My mother married my father when she was 20 years old. He was a mining engineer. Thirty years later, I spread my father’s ashes on the 360 acre farm he lived on prior to his death. The motion of my hand, throwing his body, lives in me. The change to the color of the ground imprinted. 

Winter Clings To Parts of Us, explores through a repetitive performative meditation the act of throwing in relation to the inherent transformative power of the photographic negative as a malleable interpretable surface. Each image, shot on the 360 acre farm where the ashes were spread, takes on the process of transformation in a unique way, relying on the chance action of throwing materials onto the processed film prior to printing, creating vivid color shifts on the surface of the negative and echoing the mark making act. Multiple exposures of the same image are used repeatedly but handled differently in the application of materials to the film itself. Thus, liberating the image from the instant of its’ initial creation and allowing it to operate as a linked moment that changes with each revisitation.


Tealia Ellis Ritter was born in Illinois and currently lives and works in rural Connecticut. Ellis Ritter views photography as an experimental process often engaging with ideas of image as construction or evidence of performance and is frequently inspired by personal experience, family and the idea of creating connections across time.

Her work has been exhibited internationally, most recently by Aperture, The New Yorker, at PRC: Exposure, on Women in Photography, by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Magenta Foundation, at Catherine Edelman Gallery, by Taschen NYC and at Humble Arts “31 Under 31” exhibition. Her work has also appeared in many publications, including The London Daily Telegraph, Stella Magazine, Bloomberg Pursuits Magazine and The Financial Times of London.