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An Intimacy with Fellow Creators

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Anne Wagner’s friendship book is a hybrid of sorts, part commonplace book and part scrapbook. Commonplace books, which date back to the mid-17th century, generally served as single volumes of miscellaneous quotes, poetry, and other writing collected by an individual. Scrapbooks, which dominated the Victorian era, gathered such printed material as periodical clippings, paper ephemera such as tickets, calling cards, and dance cards, and photos of friends into a large-format album designed to represent a person’s history or one aspect of their life. Scrapbooking regained popularity in the late-20th century and helped garner interest for its more modern cousin, mixed-media art.

In keeping with the book’s intended purpose, many of its inscriptions and artwork are the contributions of Anne Wagner’s friends and family, a number of which pay tribute to her and her friendship. The messages serve as a record of who visited Wagner and what words of wisdom or artistic talents they furnished. Looking at the communal effort, Jessica Pigza notes that it’s hard not to feel the intimacy of the creators and contributors as they interpreted friendships, discoveries, and emotions on each page.