AAR to Honor Mary Schmidt Campbell, John Guare, and Julie Mehretu

Collaged image consisting of three portrait photographs of Mary Schmidt Campbell,  John Guare, and Julie Mehretu
From left: Mary Schmidt Campbell (photograph provided by Spelman College), John Guare (photograph by Paul Kolnik), and Julie Mehretu (photograph by Josefina Santos)

On Tuesday, October 26, the American Academy in Rome will present the 2021 New York Gala honoring three individuals—scholar and administrator Mary Schmidt Campbell, writer John Guare, and artist Julie Mehretu—who advance the arts and humanities and exemplify outstanding achievements in the disciplines in which Rome Prize Fellowships, Italian Fellowships, and invited Residences are conferred.

The Co-Chairs for the evening are AAR Trustees Slobodan Randjelović and Calvin Tsao (2010 Resident). Honorary Chairs are Alessia Antinori (Trustee), Mary E. Frank (Trustee Emerita), and John F. W. Rogers (Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees). Following a yearlong hiatus, this annual gala benefit will return in-person at Cipriani 25 Broadway in lower Manhattan. The evening will honor luminaries in the arts and humanities as well as celebrate the unique interdisciplinary collaboration that happens every day at the American Academy in Rome.

AAR will host its annual benefit auction in conjunction with this year’s gala evening, featuring an array of one-of-a-kind experience packages and artworks offering insider access to the work of the Academy’s Fellows and Residents.


Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell has been president of Spelman College, a leading liberal-arts college in Atlanta for women of African descent, since 2015. She earned a PhD in humanities at Syracuse University and directed the Studio Museum in Harlem from 1977 to 1987 before serving as commissioner of cultural affairs for New York City under two mayors. In 1991 she became dean of Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where she also founded the Department of Art and Public Policy. In 2009 Barack Obama appointed her to become vice chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. She is the author of the award-winning book An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden (2018). Campbell will be presented by Thelma Golden.

John Guare was an AAR Resident in 2013. As the husband of Adele Chatfield-Taylor, President Emerita of the Academy, he was lucky to have lived and worked in Rome for twenty-five years. Guare is the author of House of Blue Leaves (New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best American Play, 1971; Tony nomination for Best Revival, 1986), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Tony Award for Best Musical, 1972), Atlantic City (Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay, 1982), Six Degrees of Separation (New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play, 1990), A Free Man of Color (Pulitzer Prize finalist, 2010), as well as many other plays. The American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him its Gold Medal in Drama in 2004. Guare also won the Obie Award for Sustained Achievement in 2005 and the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. He is the founder and coeditor of the Lincoln Center Theater Review. Adele Chatfield-Taylor (1984 Fellow, 2020 Resident) will present Guare his award.

Julie Mehretu is one the most important painters that has emerged over the last twenty-five years. Based in New York, she has shown her work internationally, most recently in a critically praised retrospective that opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2019 before traveling to the High Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Walker Art Center. Mehretu’s work embraces abstraction and mark making as much as it references architecture, landscape, maps, and history, often at large scale. She has also incorporated photographic images from broadcast media in her work, transforming present-day imagery depicting political conflict and social unrest underneath layers of paint. She was an AAR Resident in 2020, received a Medal of Arts Award from the US Department of State in 2015, and won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2005. Mehretu will be presented by Adam Weinberg (2020 Resident).


Tickets for the gala start at $1,500 each and proceeds from the event and the benefit auction support the Academy, which, for over 125 years, has provided time and space for the world’s best thinkers, scholars, and artists to create and imagine a better future.

Please visit aarome.org/support/new-york-gala for more information about the event, to buy tickets, and to participate in the online auction.

Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is required for all attendees and venue staff. Guests will be asked to send their proof in advance via CrowdPass. A link to CrowdPass will be emailed to all registered attendees.

American Academy in Rome

Established in 1894, the American Academy in Rome (AAR) is America’s oldest overseas center for independent studies and advanced research in the arts and humanities. The Academy has evolved to become a more global and diverse residential setting for artists and scholars living and working in Rome. The community includes a wide range of scholarly and artistic disciplines, with a composition that is representative of the United States and is fully engaged with Rome, Italy, and international exchange.

The support provided by the Academy to Rome Prize and Italian Fellows and invited Residents helps further the impact of the arts and humanities. Among the group of fourteen Residents for the 2021–22 season will be the poet Natasha Trethewey, the art historian Dario Gamboni, and the filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

Media Inquiries

Rachel Judlowe
Principal, Judlowe LLC
rachel [at] judlowe.com (rachel[at]judlowe[dot]com)

Christopher Howard
Communications Manager, AAR
212-751-7200, ext. 340
c.howard [at] aarome.org (c[dot]howard[at]aarome[dot]org)

Press inquiries

Andrew Mitchell

Director of Communications

212-751-7200, ext. 342

a.mitchell [at] aarome.org (a[dot]mitchell[at]aarome[dot]org)

Maddalena Bonicelli

Rome Press Officer

+39 335 6857707

m.bonicelli.ext [at] aarome.org (m[dot]bonicelli[dot]ext[at]aarome[dot]org)