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Academics . Curriculum . 2021 Summer Reading Program 

2021 Summer Reading Program

The goal of CIA's Summer Reading Program is to unite the incoming class through a common experience prior to joining the CIA community on campus. The program aims to foster shared conversations based in community-building, social engagement, and collaboration.

The Summer Reading is incorporated into first-year projects in both studio and liberal arts classes. The entire CIA community is invited to join the incoming class in reading and responding to each year's Summer Reading.

Detail from cover illustration for the 2021 Summer Reading, On Looking: A Walker's Guide to the Art of Observation

2021 Summer Reading

On Looking: A Walker's Guide to the Art of Observation

by Alexandra Horowitz

We are delighted to announce On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the
Art of Observation
by Alexandra Horowitz as CIA’s 2021 Summer Reading.
The annual theme for this year will be “close-looking,” inspired by
Horowitz’s work.

Structured around a series of eleven walks the author takes, mostly in her neighborhood, On Looking features experts on a diverse range of subjects, including an urban sociologist, the artist Maira Kalman, a geologist, a physician, and a sound designer.

Cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz has written about the joys of paying attention to the mundane in On Looking, about experiencing the world as dogs do in Inside of a Dog, and about the pleasures of footnotes and dog shows for The New York Times. Horowitz is a Senior Research Fellow at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she teaches seminars in canine cognition, creative nonfiction, and audio storytelling.

The Summer Reading Program committee, working with CIA's Gund Library, prepared this reading guide to accompany On Looking.

Note: On Looking: A Walker's Guide to the Art of Observation is a reprint of the original On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes. The books are nearly identical and either version will work for the reading.


The fall programming for this year includes three speakers, invited to visit CIA’s campus, to discuss their work and develop conversations on the theme “close-looking.” Please join us in welcoming the following presenters:

Ephraim Nehemiah

Lunch on Fridays: September 3, 2021, 12:15pm via Zoom
Ephraim Nehemiah is a published writer and educator whose work investigates the Black cultural lineage of traveling storytellers, musicians, and poets who are dedicated to using truth to document and critique the world around them. Their recently released full-length poetry book The Autobiography of Absence, investigates the lineage of distance that continues to persist in parent-child relationships and the void it leaves in Black fathers. This visit is being presented in collaboration with Reinberger Gallery and the exhibition Snickers That Turn into Livable Joy.

Lauren Kalman

Wednesday October 6, 2021  11:30am, PBL
Lauren Kalman is a visual artist based in Detroit, whose practice is rooted in the history of adornment, contemporary craft, sculpture, video, photography and performance. Through her work she investigates constructions of the ideal, the politics of craft, the body, and the built environment through performances using her body. This visit is being presented in collaboration with the Foundation and Craft + Design departments, through the Bickford Visiting Artist series.

Melissa Febos

Lunch on Fridays: November 5, 2021, 12:15pm via Zoom
Melissa Febos is a critically acclaimed writer of the book Whip Smart and the lyrical essay book Abandon Me, with the latter often being proclaimed as the Best Book of 2017. Her works reflect personal narratives that explore the many ways identity and art are shaped by love and loss. This visit is being presented in collaboration with the Photo + Video Department.


2021 Mail Art Project

Create your own unique postcard to mail to CIA!

Inspired by the book, Summer Reading participants are asked to take a 30-minute walk to explore an environment near to you that maybe you haven’t discovered yet. Take notes, search, look closely and observe the space. You might choose a local park, your neighborhood, or even your home.

Document this research, then create three composed images through drawn, painted or collaged elements that you’ll place on the cover of a 4x6-inch postcard. 

Prior to arriving at CIA, mail two of the postcards to CIA community members. A complete list of employees is available on myCIA.

For more information:

Scott Goss
Assistant Professor | Assistant Chair
216.421.7000 | Contact

- OR -

Zachary Savich
Associate Professor | Chair of Liberal Arts
216.421.7000 | Contact

In On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation, Alexandra Horowitz shows us how to see the spectacle of the ordinary—to practice, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put it, “the observation of trifles.”