Anne Ishii, Bara Manga Renaissance Woman, Appointed Executive Director of Asian Arts Initiative

Anne Ishii Photo by Lucas Michael

Photo by Lucas Michael

Asian Arts Initiative announced recently that Anne Ishii will be joining the organization as their new Executive Director. Asian Arts Initiative (AAI) is dedicated to creating community through the power of art. Founded in 1993 in response to the growing racial tension between African-American and Asian-American communities, AAI advances understanding through art and performance, and fosters a freedom from bias in their community by engaging artists of all ages and opening dialogues about around a multitude of creative practices.

“Located in Philadelphia’s burgeoning Chinatown North neighborhood, Asian Arts Initiative is a multidisciplinary arts center where all people — across experience and skill levels, age, race, and class backgrounds — can view and create art that reflects our lives, as well as think critically and creatively about the future we want to build for our communities.”

Bringing Anne Ishii on board is an exciting decision for AAI. Ishii is a true renaissance woman, with a diverse background of accomplishments and successes. She has written for countless publications including Slate, The Village Voice, and Publisher’s Weekly. She has professionally translated many amazing works, including Gengoroh Tagame’s Eisner-award winning manga, My Brother’s Husand, as well as Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan, which was the brain child of Chip Kidd who also worked with Ishii on her books The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame: Master of Gay Erotic Manga and Massive: Gay Japanese Manga and the Men Who Make It. Ishii edited Massive with Graham Kolbeins, the pair then co-founded Massive Goods in 2013, which is a fashion brand, a publisher of bara manga, sells merchandise tied to their graphic novel of the same name, and is a creative agency representing queer and feminist artists from Japan.

Read the full announcement from Edward Garcia, Chair of Asian Arts Intiative Board of Directors below.



Dear Friends,

We are thrilled to share with you the news that we have hired a new Executive Director, Anne Ishii! Anne is a writer, editor and translator, who for the past ten years has worked specifically to achieve visibility and recognition for art and artists that touches on issues of gender and sexuality in the Asian diaspora. In her quest to platform more and better iterations of work from the API diaspora, Anne has worked in publishing and advertising, venture consulting and content strategy.

“In all my work and travel through creative capitals, I have never seen a city that so deeply embodies the crucial human element of the artist’s experience as Philadelphia does, and I’m frankly humbled and honored to work in enriching the Asian American arts here with such humanity.”

2018 has been a milestone year for us as we celebrate 25 years of creative practice and community building. A successful, and ambitious, year of programming that included a major multi-site public exhibition, a national convening in partnership with the Smithsonian, a performance showcase, and lots of old friends and new. We look forward to continuing the celebration with a the launch of a special edition of the Asian American Literary Review and neighborhood programs report to the field this fall. As we embark on the next 25 years we are committed to Anne’s forward looking vision–expanding our local and national footprint and taking a real unapologetic approach to realizing community impact through arts and arts practice.

We can not wait to see how Anne’s diverse skills and experience help shape the artistic landscape in our city. On behalf of the Board of Directors, we welcome Anne to the Asian Arts Initiative family.

Edward Garcia
Chair, Board of Directors


CBLDF congratulates Anne Ishii and Asian Arts Intiative and looks forward to the great work that is sure to emerge from this union.

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