Winona Ryder was born on a farm on the outskirts of Winona, MN. In 2020, she returned home to creative direct a photo essay of the town and the people who live there. Squarespace lets Winona display her photos and sell copies of the book she creative directed.

My goal was to capture the humanity of the people and the town. I tried to show the heart and soul, and the true character of the place or person. Because when you do it right, it can reveal a lot.

Q&A withWinona Ryder

Tell us the story of how your parents decided to name you after the town of Winona, Minnesota.

My parents were passing through Winona on their way to San Francisco from New York. The day before I was born, my mom was doing laundry at a local laundromat, where she saw a booklet with a picture of an American Indian princess called The Legend of Winona.

Apparently, when she picked it up, it caused her to go into labor. About fourteen hours later, I was born in a farmhouse. I’m called a "shoelace baby" because I came out early and all my dad knew to do was boil a shoelace and tie off the umbilical cord. But it worked—I’m here. Yay shoelaces!

So you were born in Winona. Then where did your family go?

We ended up in San Francisco on Telegraph Hill in North Beach. From there we moved up north to the Mendocino area. We basically lived in a commune. There were 380 acres of redwoods, seven families and no electricity. It made for a really cool part of my childhood. We ate what we grew, we didn’t have television—it really encouraged us to use our imaginations.

You’re creating a photo essay on the town of Winona. Can you tell us how you got into photography?

My mom is a very good photographer and some of my earliest memories are of just looking through photography books with her. I started collecting photography when I started making money. I have a pretty wonderful collection.

When you truly capture a moment, it lasts forever. Trust me, I know — I’ve been photographed a lot. It was exciting to be on the other side of the camera, behind the lens.

When you were taking and curating the photos for this project, was there anything in particular that you were trying to capture or document?

My goal was to capture the humanity of the people and the town. I tried to show the heart and soul, and the true character of the place or person. Because when you do it right, it can reveal a lot. When you truly capture a moment, it lasts forever. Trust me, I know—I’ve been photographed a lot. It was exciting to be on the other side of the camera, behind the lens.

Squarespace exists to empower small business owners so they can pursue their dreams. Do you think that’s important?

Absolutely. It’s crucial. It’s great that we’re in this town because Winona represents a lot of places that aren’t talked about as much. The fact that Squarespace was interested in showcasing the town and the businesses here is what drew me to the project.

Winona Ryder brought her photo project to life on Squarespace.

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