All In The Campaign for Blair Academy 2018-2025
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Arts Guild Inducts New Class of Student & Faculty Creators
Ashley Schreyer

At Blair, art is not just a creative outlet, but also an ingrained part of the curriculum and the academic day. Creativity is intentionally woven into our programs, across disciplines and throughout our community to invite one’s inner artist to thrive. Blair takes pride in nurturing the talents of so many inspiring creators, and it is with great joy that we announce the Arts Guild Class of 2024: John Ahearn ’69, Adam Sampieri ’99, Michael Breslin ’09, Eileen Xie ’09 as well as Judith Kahan Kampmann and Steven Kampmann.

In order to be considered for the Arts Guild, nominees will be evaluated on their involvement and achievements in the fine arts while at Blair, as well as accomplishments in the visual or performing arts that occurred after graduation. Nominees must have been outstanding members of the School community in the areas of scholastic achievement, citizenship, integrity and moral character. Finally, alumni nominees become Arts Guild eligible in the fifth year following their graduation, while former faculty become eligible after their retirement from Blair.

This year’s class will be honored at a special ceremony on June 8 during Alumni Weekend. For more information and a schedule of events, click here.

John Ahearn ’69

Renowned New York sculptor John Ahearn came to the hilltop from his hometown of Binghamton, New York. He went on to Cornell University, where he earned his BFA, before kick-starting his illustrious career in New York City as a sculptor. Internationally acclaimed for his technique of “repetitive life casting,” John returned to campus in 2011 to share his work with the School alongside his brother Charlie Ahearn ’69 and fellow alums John Houskeeper ’69 and Tim Fite ’95 in a group exhibition of art from their formative years to the present.

As a founding member of Collaborative Projects, Inc. and co-organizer of the “Times Square Show,” in 1980, John is a longtime collaborator with Rigoberto Torres. Their work was the subject of a survey exhibition, “South Bronx Hall of Fame,” organized by the Contemporary Arts Center of Houston in 1991, which traveled to museums in Europe and North America. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the duo adorned the streets of the Bronx with outdoor murals and collaborated on public projects and exhibitions in Europe and North America. In 1996, they collaborated on the East 100th Street Sculpture Project and a Gay-Straight Alliance commission in Baltimore. The early 2000s saw John’s artistic vision extend to Pan-ch’iao, Taiwan, where he completed a public project. Subsequently, he and Rigoberto collaborated on two large-scale wall murals at the Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporânea in Brazil. Just prior to their time in Brazil, they created an outdoor mural depicting 16 athletes as a public project in Caguas, Puerto Rico. In the fall of 2010, their work was the subject of a compelling solo exhibition at the Aljira, a center for contemporary art in Newark, New Jersey, and in May 2012, John participated in the special projects section of the Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island, where he presented a reconstruction of his legendary 1979 exhibition at Fashion Moda.

Adam Sampieri ’99

Adam Sampieri has been a professional theatre artist for 20-plus years, with more than 100 credits as an actor, director, designer, composer and playwright. Some of his most memorable performances include originating the role of Fyodor Dostoyevsky in In the Dog House: The Execution of Dostoyevsky for Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern as well as turns in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Arcadia and The Man Who, which he also scored. As a songwriter, Adam’s work has been featured on stage, screen and radio. He received his BA in English from Duke University and earned his master’s at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Adam now serves as an instructor of drama and humanities at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.

On the Blair stage, one of Adam’s most notable performances may have been as the title role of Macbeth, which remains a standout performance to veteran theatre director Craig Evans to this day. As a student, Adam was honored with the Dumont English Prize, the Phillips-James-Rosen Trophy, the Blair Academy Trophy, the Paul R. White History Prize, the Charles H. Breed Memorial Prize in American History, the Robert F. Harris Drama Award, the John Kinch Leach Merit Award, the Harding Memorial Prize and the Henry B. Cowan Prize. He was a member of the Cum Laude Society and Blue and White Key. Adam has returned to the hilltop as an alum to inspire the next generation of artists at Blair, speaking at Society of Skeptics lectures and sharing his storied career in J-term classes.

Michael Breslin ’09

Michael Breslin is an Obie-winning, New York-based writer, director and performer, originally from New Jersey. As a student at Blair, Michael Breslin immersed himself in all the arts had to offer. During his four years, he was actively involved in the Blair Academy Players, dance team and Blair Academy Singers. His senior year, Michael was honored with the Robert F. Harris Dramatics Award, Cum Laude Society distinction, and the Edythe Jeffrey Shakespeare Prize while serving as prefect. He matriculated at Hamilton College, where he studied theatre and comparative literature, and was awarded their prestigious Bristol Fellowship. In May 2023, he received his DFA from Yale’s School of Drama in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism.

Today, Michael is the creative director of the New York-based theatre and digital media production company Fake Friends, which develops and produces original works for the stage, screen and Internet alongside co-founder Patrick Foley. The two received critical acclaim for their 2020 Internet play Circle Jerk, which was a 2021 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the Drama League Award. 

Michael’s recent endeavors include directing Invasive Species by Maia Novi, writing a new musical and working on Bikini, an innovative adaptation of Madame Bovary set in the world of competitive bikini bodybuilding. He executive produced and co-wrote Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical, which raised $1.9 million for the Actors Fund. Other original works include: A Doll’s House, Part 3 (with Patrick Foley), Avital (with Ariel Sibert) and Arden (with Em Weinstein). These works have been presented at NYTW Next Door, Ars Nova’s Makers Lab and ANT Fest, the Exponential Festival, Wesleyan University, Queer International Arts Festival, Yale Cabaret and Yale School of Drama. 

Eileen Xie ’09

Eileen Xie came to the hilltop as an international student from Beijing, China, in the ninth grade. By her senior year, she had become an academic standout, excelling in both art and math, and was noted as one of the most successful students in the class of 2009. While Eileen participated competitively in lacrosse, field hockey and squash and was a valuable member of the tech crew, multicultural student union and Blair’s international student organization, it was in the art studio where Eileen’s true gift was most on display. She won numerous school and regional awards for her art—including the Dale Rosen Drama Award and the Blair Art Prize—and attended Cornell’s summer school in architecture, where she found her passion, before leaving the hilltop.
Eileen matriculated at Cornell University, where she earned her BA in architecture in 2014. She furthered her education at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, obtaining a master’s of architecture in urban design in 2019. Eileen has gained invaluable experience honing her craft at renowned architecture firms like Gerkan, Marg and Partners in Hamburg, Germany, and Gensler in Washington, D.C. Outside of architecture, Eileen has pursued additional artistic avenues with her polymer clay and 3D printed fan art. Eileen shares her intricately detailed mini figures, which are meticulously hand painted, on social media. 

Judith Kahan Kampmann & Steven Kampmann

When former faculty members Steven Kampmann and Judith Kahan Kampmann came to Blair in 1998 following successful Hollywood careers in writing, acting and directing, the establishment of a video studies program at the Academy was not part of the original script. However, one plot twist led to another, and by the time the pair retired in 2010, Blair’s academic and after-school video offerings were thriving, thanks in large part to Steven’s and Judith’s creativity and dedication to the craft. In 2015, they chose to make a generous gift to the School to name the Kampmann Video Prize, awarded to the student each year whose exceptional talent, enthusiasm, dedication and accomplishment in visual expression and storytelling not only meet the highest standards of excellence, but also uniquely set them apart from all others. 

Before coming to Blair, Judith enjoyed a vibrant career, first as a stage actress in The Proposition, an improvisational musical revue in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and off-Broadway in New York, then acting in more shows off and on Broadway, including in the original cast of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. After that, in Los Angeles, she acted and/or scripted TV shows with Lily Tomlin, Norman Lear, Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke and many more. Steven also forged a singular path in the entertainment industry, first as a member of the legendary Second City in Chicago and Toronto, starring alongside Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, and then in Los Angeles as an actor and writer, most well-known for his role as Kirk Devane on the first two seasons of Newhart, as well as co-producing and writing WKRP in Cincinnati. Steven has written 30 screenplays. In 1988, he co-wrote and co-directed Stealing Home, starring Mark Harmon and Jodie Foster. Both Judith and Steven have also acted in numerous films. In a funny coincidence, Judith appeared in Analyze This and Steven appeared in the sequel, Analyze That.

While on the hilltop, Judith was recognized with The Lillian and Samuel Tedlow Faculty Enrichment Prize and both teachers were honored with The Riether Residential Life Award. Their familial connections to Blair have proudly continued with their three sons—Woody ’01, Billy ’02 and Mikey ’04—who all attended Blair.

Members of the school community are invited to suggest nominees for the class of 2025 and can do so here until December 31, 2024.

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