Anne Ishii, cofounder of the book, fashion and brand outlet Massive Goods, has been named executive director of Philadephia’s Asian Arts Initiative, a pioneering urban arts nonprofit.
Ishii, who has worked as an editor, translator and agent, will join the AAI August 1. She will split her time between the AAI building and the organization's Philadelphia office and her home in New York City. Ishii succeeds AAI’s founding executive director Gayle Isa, who is leaving after 25 years at the helm.
Ishii told PW she plans to bring her expertise in literary and comics publishing to AAI’s programming. She said that the AAI fosters “conversations between Asian American and other communities on how art can be a vital link. We look to support meaningful art practices and we want to nurture emerging talent. Publishing and comics can touch on all of this.”
A multifaceted editor/translator of Japanese manga, Ishii is a 2017 PW Star Watch honoree, cited for her entrepreneurial efforts publishing and merchandising Japanese comics, as well as Massive Good’s queer and feminist publishing, fashion and lifestyle brand. She will continue as an owner of Massive Goods, although daily operations will now be directed by the company's cofounder, Graham Kolbeins, from Los Angeles.
AAI was founded in the wake of the L.A. riots, during a period of tension between African American and Asian American urban communities. The organization, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, works to advance racial understanding via the arts, offering community arts activities as well as presenting the works of nationally celebrated artists, writers and performers. The organization is based in Philly’s North Chinatown neighborhood in a 30,000 sq. ft building that houses studios, two galleries and a theater.