Anna Wager

Anna Wager


Kindred Spirits: Communal Making and Religious Revival in Arts and Crafts Movements, 1870-1920



Communal work, community support, and collaborative art production defined William Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement, and these tenets were also central to late-nineteenth-century religious practices. My dissertation chronicles the relationship between religious patronage and Arts and Crafts production in the United Kingdom and United States, by examining designers, artists, and their spaces, including convents, embroidery schools, architectural firms, and printing houses. Practitioners often worked in shifting media: book designers also made stained glass, architects supplied embroidery designs, and typographers also devised architecture. Such fluid, collective practices are key to understanding this networked artistic exchange. These communities were practicing a resistance both radical and conservative, pushing for dignity in labor through an almost archaic aesthetic, within a seemingly conventional, medievalist, and patriarchal structure — yet this structure also allowed for dissident behavior. I argue that the integration of art and architecture in Arts and Crafts production led to intense, encompassing experiences, possible only through this sophisticated transatlantic networking and collaboration. This dissertation examines three Anglo-American communities: the Society of St. Margaret, the Merrymount Press, and Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue’s bookmaking and architectural firms. Centering on embroidery, bookmaking, and architecture, these communities all contributed to Gothic Revival church design and decoration. By focusing on the communal, these spaces allow us to examine the connections between religious artmaking, subversion, and understudied but vital aspects of Arts and Crafts production, engaging art history, material culture studies, gender studies, and scholarship on print culture and book arts.



Anna Wager received her PhD in Art History from the School of Art + Art History + Design in spring 2018. Her dissertation examined the activation of Arts and Crafts objects in Gothic Revival churches at the turn of the twentieth century, and the communities who created those objects. Her research interests include Victorian material culture, embroidery, typography, printmaking, and contemporary craftwork as a method of resistance. Her non-research interests include knitting, gardening, and very amateur letterpress. At the University of Washington, Anna was a co-organizer for the 18/19th-century Graduate Research Cluster, the assistant for the Textual Studies program, and president of the Graduate Students in Art History. She has held curatorial fellowships at the Delaware Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, and Henry Art Gallery. In August 2018, Anna joins the faculty at Hobart and William Smith Colleges as Visual Arts Curator.



  • PhD, Art History, University of Washington, 2018
  • Certificate, Textual and Digital Studies, University of Washington, 2018
  • MA, Art History, Indiana University, 2012
  • BA, Art History, Gender Studies, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, 2009



  • Susan P. Casteras, Chair (Art History)
  • Jeffrey T. Knight, GSR (English)
  • Estelle C. Lingo (Art History)
  • Vanessa Rounthwaite Esse (Art History)
  • Geoffrey Turnovsky (French and Italian Studies)
  • Anna Wager in Delaware Art Museum
  • Anna Wager printing at Rare Book School
  • William Morris mural, Walthamstow, London
  • Church of the Advent, Boston