Akiko Ichikawa

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Akiko Ichikawa
市川 明子
EducationUniversity School of Nashville
Vanderbilt University
Alma materBrown University
Hunter College
Familysiblings: Kenshin Ichikawa, Yoko Ichikawa
AwardsArtists Space Independent Project Grant, Djerassi Artists Residency

Akiko Ichikawa (市川 明子, Ichikawa Akiko, or アキーコー・イーチカーワ, Akiko Ichikawa) is a transdisciplinary artist, editor,[1][2] and writer-activist based in New York City.[3][4] She has written on contemporary art and culture for Flash Art, Art in America, Hyperallergic, and zingmagazine. Ichikawa's article on the photography of Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake, and Ansel Adams at Manzanar became popular in fall 2016, following comments by a spokesperson of a Trump-supporting PAC on Fox News.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Sagamihara, Kanagawa,[5] Akiko Ichikawa emigrated to the United States with her family, via San Francisco, when she was three. Ichikawa's younger brother, Kenshin Ichikawa,[6][7] founded and designed Rocksmith streetwear, which has done collaborative lines with the Wu Tang Clan, Malcolm X's daughters, and a music video with Future. The label has also been worn by all of the major male American hip-hop stars.[8][9] Her sister, Yoko, is an Oakland, California-based part-time graphic designer and ESL teacher.[10] She and her siblings grew up in the suburbs of Boston and Nashville,[11] and she took courses in photography, painting, and drawing at Vanderbilt University while still in high school.

Ichikawa attended Brown University concentrating in Visual Art under Annette Lemieux, Leslie Bostrom, and Walter Feldman, graduating with honors. She moved to New York City four days later, using the award money from the Ivy League college's Roberta Joslin Art award to pay for her first month's rent on a studio apartment in the East Village. After working in academic publishing for 18 months, she entered Hunter's MFA program where she studied under Gretchen Bender, Robert Morris, and Andrea Blum, among others, and earned a scholarship to study in the MA Sculpture department at the Slade School of Art in London and an award to organize a panel on new painting.


Ichikawa's conceptually-based artwork exists as performance, installation[12] and net.art. The performances[13][14] include a series of site-specific gifting work titled Limited, Limited Edition in which she painted t-shirts with Japanese text informed by the neighborhood in which she gave the shirts away at low-cost: either translations of message shirts she saw in or inspired by the area.[15] She presented the first iteration of this work at Socrates Sculpture Park, in Long Island City, Queens;[16] PERFORMA at Artists Space,[17] the next in Jamaica, Queens; then at the Incheon Women Artists' Biennale in Incheon, South Korea;[18] at On Stellar Rays gallery in the Lower East Side; in three locations in Newark, New Jersey for Aljira Center for Contemporary Art,[19] in a school yard in East Harlem; on 14th Street, Manhattan, as a part of the Art in Odd Places performance festival, and on H Street NE in Washington D.C.[20] For Bad Kanji, she painted temporary kanji tattoos on viewers at the Spring/Break Art Show in 2015, held in the historic office spaces above New York City's James A. Farley Post Office. The work was reviewed favorably.[21] She has additionally exhibited her work in The Hague, Berlin, Philadelphia,[22] St. Paul, Minnesota, and in Sweden,[3] and currently lives and works in Brooklyn.[13][23]

Ichikawa also operates as an art historian, having enacted two of Fluxus-member Alison Knowles's event scores, namely #5 Wounded Furniture and #3 Nivea Cream Piece.[20][24] The latter was live-blogged online[25] and well-received, with Hyperallergic's Kyle Chayka writing that it was "definitely among [his] favorites."[26] In 2015, Ichikawa wrote about the Japanese American incarceration through the photography of Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and Toyo Miyatake for Hyperallergic, which became popular, shared over 8,000 times on Facebook.[27][28] In 2018, she reminded New York art world readers about the Golden Venture incident, which marked the start of contemporary punitive U.S. immigration policies at the presidential level, under President Clinton.[29] In 2020, she wrote on newly revealed information on the life of Abstract Expressionist Clyfford Still for Art in America.[30]

In the Aughts, Ichikawa created an Internet art piece that simulated a series of imagined art installations. The multi-hyphenate has also created a series of Facebook groups themed around food organized by color, touching upon issues of cultural identity, food sourcing, gentrification, environmental concerns, and greenwashing while sharing nutrition and cost-cutting tips: I ♥ Yellow Food, I ♥ Orange Food, I ♥ Red Food, I ♥ Green Food, and I ♥ Blue Food.[31][32][33] While not supportive of Facebook's history of massive online-privacy violations, its carrying the 2016 Republican National Convention, and, along with other mainstream media outlets, its other roles in the empowerment of Trump's 2016 presidential candidacy,[34][35] she nevertheless viewed the social media platform as an effective, user-friendly way to include as many participants as possible, in as short a time as possible. She has lately turned to Instagram, bought by Facebook in 2012.[36]

Ichikawa's artwork before 2005 was primarily in installation art, built around the placement and assembly of basic construction materials in galleries and other spaces. She presented one such piece as her solo exhibition at Momenta Art[37][38] and another at Andrew Kreps gallery in a group exhibition curated by Dean Daderko,[39][40] now a curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.[41] The series evolved into a Net.art piece, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? that was stored on Rhizome.org.[42][43]


Ichikawa has written on contemporary art for Flash Art on the work of Ken Lum,[44] Laurel Nakadate, Dan Peterson, Yasue Maetake, and, for NY Arts magazine, the work of British artists Jane and Louise Wilson[45] and for zingmagazine, the work of Iranian-American public artist Siah Armajani.[46][47]

In 2015, Ichikawa wrote about the photography of Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and Toyo Miyatake and the Japanese American incarceration for Hyperallergic.[27][28] The article received its biggest spike in interest (about 5,000 more Facebook shares, totaling 8,000) after the spokesman of a Trump-supporting PAC, in early November 2016, cited the incarceration as precedent for a Muslim registry on Fox News.[48] In 2018, she reviewed an exhibition of folded paper work by the Golden Venture migrants who were held in York, Pennsylvania that was presented at Chinatown's Museum of Chinese in America.[29]

Ichikawa also wrote about the closing of the Manhattan Tekserve store, the performance by a group of young area Native American musicians at Rutgers University in 2016, and cowrote about the work of young artists of Asian descent in a New York City-based performance art festival the next year.[49] In 2018, in addition to writing about the paper-folding work of the Golden Venture migrants for Art in America online,[50] she served as the social media writer for #callresponse during its New York City exhibition run at EFA Project Space.[51]

In 2019, Ichikawa wrote about her experience of being sexually harassed at a neighborhood laundromat undergoing gentrification pressure for a Chinatown-based teen activist zine.[52] She also opined to the New York Times on American environmentalist and leader of 350.org Bill McKibben's critique of Tatiana Schlossberg’s book, Inconspicuous Consumption. She wrote that "his insistence on the 'correct' way to fight what we now know to be impending world disaster is laughable."[53]

The next year, Ichikawa wrote on the life of Clyfford Still for Art in America as seen though a documentary released that year on the Abstract Expressionist[30] and on a 2018 performance work by African-American multimedia artist Ama Be (Nana Ama Bentsi-Enchill).[54][55]

Awards and residencies[edit]


  • The 21st Century, the Feminine Century, the Century of Diversity and Hope. Incheon Women Artists' Biennale Organizing Committee, South Korea. 2009.[56]
  • Jamaica Flux '07: Workplaces & Windows. JCAL, Queens. 2008. ISBN 978-0976285366.
  • Jennifer Liese, ed. (2007). Performa: New Visual Art Performance. Performa. ISBN 978-1424314980.
  • Michael Ashkin, ed. (2005). Momenta Art: 1999 to 2004. Momenta Art. ISBN 0-9678868-1-3.
  • Jamaica Flux. JCAL, Queens. 2004. ISBN 0-9762853-0-4.
  • Jochen Gerz, ed. (2004). De Anthologie der Kunst. Dumont Verlag, Cologne.
  • Jung Lee Sanders, ed. (2003). Art Projects International: Ten Years. API, New York. ISBN 0-9746915-9-3.


Ichikawa's younger sister, Yoko, is an Oakland, California-based part-time graphic designer, dance instructor, and microblogger.[57] Her younger brother, Kenshin Ichikawa, founded and designed Rocksmith streetwear, which has done collaborative lines with the Wu Tang Clan, Malcolm X's daughters, and a music video with Future, among other things. The label has also been worn by all of the major male American hip-hop stars. Yoko is a graduate of Wesleyan University, where she majored in West African dance; Kenshin is a graduate of Columbia University and is married to UC Berkeley Food Institute executive director Nina F. Ichikawa.[58][59][60]


  1. ^ Forbes Life, masthead, May 2011, p. 12
  2. ^ —, masthead, December 2011, p. 14.
  3. ^ a b "mh RESIDENCY fall #02: Akiko Ichikawa". mhprojectnyc.com. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  5. ^ "Resumé" (PDF). akikoichikawa.com.
  6. ^ "Rocksmith Designer Kenshin Ichikawa Discusses Brand Success and Wu-Tang Collaborations". XXL. March 26, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  7. ^ "Search results for Kenshin Ichikawa in New York, NY". Intelius.com. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
  8. ^ "SEENT IT: P. DIDDY SEEN IN ROCKSMITH SUMMER 2 G'S UP SHORTS". Rocksmith NYC. August 4, 2014. Archived from the original on November 24, 2016. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  9. ^ "My Blog_". Hearty Magazine. May 25, 2009.
  10. ^ "Yoko Ichikawa, Faculty". LinkedIn. Retrieved December 13, 2013. and ESL teacher at San Francisco's Academy of Art
  11. ^ "ABC NO RIO, Akiko Ichikawa, Vandana Jain, Jayson Keeling, Rahul Saggar, Martina Secondo, Chanika Svetvilas: 2nd October 2008 – 29th October 2008". ArtSlant. Archived from the original on July 28, 2018. Retrieved March 6, 2011. ArtSlant, Inc.
  12. ^ Johnson, Ken (June 18, 2004). "Art in Review: The Reality of Things". The New York Times.
  13. ^ a b Nathan, E. (January 11, 2011). "Artnet News". Artnet.
  14. ^ PERFORMA05: Akiko Ichikawa biography Archived November 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Performa 05 website
  15. ^ "Don't Miss!". TimeOut New York. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  16. ^ "Akiko Ichikawa". Socrates Sculpture Park. Archived from the original on December 26, 2013. Retrieved December 25, 2013.
  17. ^ "Akiko Ichikawa CV" (PDF). akikoichikawa.info. Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  18. ^ "Exhibition Tuning, Incheon Women Artists' Biennale". IWA Biennale.
  19. ^ "Exhibitions: Limited, Limited Edition (Newark)". Aljira.org.
  20. ^ a b "Performances". akikoichikawa.com.
  21. ^ Goldensohn, Rosa (March 5, 2015). "'Super-Trippy' Art Show Takes Over Post Office's Main Branch". Hyperallergic. Archived from the original on March 21, 2015.
  22. ^ "Pearl Street Block Party". Asian Arts Initiative. Archived from the original on November 14, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  23. ^ "Biobiblio, Akiko Ichikawa". Jochen Gerz's Anthology of Art. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  24. ^ Knowles, Alison. "Event Scores". aknowles.com.
  25. ^ Vartanian, Hrag (January 15, 2011). "Live Blogging Maximum Perception Sat Night". Hyperallergic.
  26. ^ Chayka, Kyle (January 20, 2011). "Reflections on 2011 Maximum Perception". Hyperallergic.
  27. ^ a b Ichikawa, Akiko (May 8, 2015). "The Images and Stories of Japanese American Internment". Hyperallergic.
  28. ^ a b Ichikawa (September 1, 2015). "How the Photography of Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams Told the Story of Japanese American Internment". Hyperallergic.
  29. ^ a b Ichikawa (March 14, 2018). "The Craft of Survival: Golden Venture Paper Sculptures at the Museum of Chinese in America". Art in America.
  30. ^ a b Ichikawa (March 25, 2020). "A New Clyfford Still Documentary Explores the Life and Work of the Enigmatic Abstract Expressionist". Art in Americas.
  31. ^ Ichikawa. "Asians Not Brainwashed By Media Lapping Up Amy Chua". Facebook.
  32. ^ Ichikawa. "I ♥ Yellow Food". Facebook.
  33. ^ Ichikawa. "I ♥ Blue Food". Facebook.
  34. ^ Feldman, Brian (November 17, 2016). "The Trouble With Facebook's Fake-News Data". New York magazine.
  35. ^ Li, Roland (July 26, 2018). "Facebook's stock plunge not expected to hurt Bay Area economy". San Francisco Chronicle.
  36. ^ Ichikawa. "Akiko Ichikawa". Instagram.
  37. ^ "Past Projects, 2000". Momenta Art. Archived from the original on December 13, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  38. ^ Garcia-Fenech, Giovanni (October 4, 2000). "Brooklyn Spice". Artnet.
  39. ^ "Akiko Ichikawa (Artist) in New York, NY (New York) from Re-title.com". Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) Re-title.com
  40. ^ "list of installation work". akikoichikawa.com.
  41. ^ "Staff & Board". Contemporary Arts Museum Houston website.
  42. ^ "Where Do We Come From What Are We Where Are We Going?". Rhizome.org.
  43. ^ "Untitled Document". akikoichikawa.info. Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  44. ^ Ichikawa (September 2001). "Hyperreal Insubordinate: Ken Lum". New York Arts magazine.
  45. ^ "Jane and Louise Wilson (resume)" (PDF). 303 Gallery. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 12, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
  46. ^ "Table of contents". zingmagazine. Archived from the original on December 22, 2013. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
  47. ^ "Writing". akikoichikawa.com.
  48. ^ Hawkins, Derek (November 17, 2016). "Japanese American internment is 'precedent' for national Muslim registry, prominent Trump backer says". Washington Post.
  49. ^ "Author: Akiko Ichikawa". Hyperallergic. March 29, 2022.
  50. ^ Ichikawa (March 14, 2018). "The Craft of Survival: Golden Venture Paper Sculptures at the Museum of Chinese in America". Art in America.
  51. ^ Ichikawa (March 14, 2018). "Thinking about my new friends in #CallResponse & having to deal w/the frustrations of working in US hyper capitalism". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 26, 2021.
  52. ^ Ichikawa (August 16, 2019). "The gorgeous 34-page AYA zine from the h.s. summer youth at @caaavnyc is out! Edited by @ramijaalam, it features interviews w/Gary Lum of @wingonwoandco & State Assemblymember Yuhline Niou, on-the-street interviews w/area & #queensbridge residents". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 26, 2021.
  53. ^ "Letters to the Editor". The New York Times. October 4, 2019.
  54. ^ "About".
  55. ^ "Akiko Ichikawa 市川明子 on Instagram: "I have 2 written pieces in a book that launches on Zoom Saturday. "Institution is a Verb" published by @the_operating_system covers some of the activity at @panoplylab in e. Williamsburg 2012-18, and is edited by Esther Neff (PPL's founder), @ayana.m.evans @tsedaye , and Elizabeth Lamb. The party will showcase video documentation from performances from that times as well as discussion and toasts! I wrote about Nana Ama Bentsi-Enchill's performance there on May 26, 2018, as well as documentation with @jean__carla__rodea of the "think tank" we participated in with Neff. @thefenserf"".
  56. ^ "Catalogues". akikoichikawa.info.
  57. ^ "Artbeat Feats". Instagram.
  58. ^ "Nina Kahori Fallenbaum". Hyphen magazine. December 18, 2010.
  59. ^ "Who We Are: Our Team". food.berkeley.edu.
  60. ^ "Nina F. Ichikawa". LinkedIn.

See also[edit]