Artist’s Corner – Issa Ibrahim

December 3, 2019

The Artist’s Corner is a new weekly feature of the Addiction/Recovery eBulletin. We send our participants forty questions and ask them to choose twenty they would like to answer. It includes a short profile and a link to their website. We hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Addiction/Recovery eBulletin or its staff.



Issa Ibrahim finds meaning and purpose as an artist, musician, writer, filmmaker, activist, 25-year artist-in-residence at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center’s Living Museum, and now as a member of Fountain House Gallery. Author of the memoir The Hospital Always Wins, published in 2016, Issa has been featured on German Public Television, an HBO documentary, and an Edward R. Murrow and Third Coast award winning NPR audio story. Knocking down the icon has been a major theme for Issa since his teenage years, influenced in the late 1970s by punk rock. Anarchic takes on comic strip themes stay with Issa and resonate, giving him the capacity to palpably merge the lowbrow with erudition, the truth behind the fairy tale, what he calls a fun house reflection of a bankrupt culture. By creating “what if” scenarios, infusing loving homage and nostalgic longing with harsh realities and biting satire, Issa wishes to say something honest and meaningful about contemporary society and the world we live in.

Q. If you are in recovery, what was your Drug of Choice and when did you discontinue its use?
A. My drug of choice was marijuana. I’ve been clean since 1992. Had a brief relapse during Trump’s candidacy. I kinda said, “America, all bets are off!” As a result I became de-stabilized and had to be re-hospitalized. I’ve learned my lesson and am doing well without it.

Q. At which classes or workshops did you learn the most?
A. I believe life is the best teacher, it’s up to you to be a good student.

Q. Do you believe artists are made or born?
A. I don’t wish to ruffle any feathers but as an artist since birth I lean toward the latter, but I do believe great talent can be cultivated.

Q. Which film have you watched the most?
A. A Hard Day’s Night. It’s a good comedy with an amazing soundtrack.

Q. Who is your favorite celebrity in recovery?
A. The one’s that keep producing and don’t let their addiction issues stop them. They are many.

Q. Do prefer to living by the ocean, lake, river, mountaintop, or penthouse?
A. I like living in NYC where a beach is just a short subway ride away.

Q. What is your biggest or littlest pet peeve?
A. Dishes in the sink.

Q. How do you measure success?
A. Continuing to get excited about what you do, staying curious.

Q. If you had an extra million dollars, which charity would you donate it to?
A. Homelessness.

Q. Who was your biggest influence throughout your life?
A. My mother Audrey. Great artistic spirit that lives within me long after her passing.

Q. What is your current hobby?
A. Art, but it’s not a hobby it’s a lifestyle. 

Q. What prominent fe/male figure would you most like to date?
A. I consider myself blessed to have found a soulmate in the beautiful and talented artist Susan Spangenberg, actor stage name Shyla Idris…she is my muse.

Q. If you were giving a dinner party for your 3 favorite authors, Living or dead, who would they be? (you can choose 4 if you think one might be too drunk or stoned to attend.)
A. Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Richard Wright, Stephen King.

Q. What is your favorite: Website?
A. Live News 24/7…it’s always on.

Q. What is your favorite: TV/cable/digital series?
A. Wentworth, Australian prison drama with damn good acting.

Q. Who is your favorite: Film Director?
A. Orson Welles, Hitchcock, John Carpenter, Christopher Nolan

Q. What is your favorite: Non-fiction book genre?
A. Memoir

Q. What is your favorite: Museum?
A. Museum of Modern Art NYC

Q. What is your favorite: Band/composer/musical artist?
A. Beatles, Elvis Costello, XTC

Q. What is your favorite: Broadway musical/play?
A. Noises Off

Q. What is your favorite: Psychology or school of thought as related to psychology?
A. Anything related to the deeper aspects of the mind.

Q. Who is your favorite: Activist?
A. Pete Seeger

Q. What is your favorite:  Cuisine?
A. Italian

Q. What is your favorite: City?
A. Amsterdam

Q. Have you ever been arrested and, if so, what for?
A. Yes. Once for homicide. I was acquitted by reason of insanity, and so my journey began. 

Q. What is your favorite album of all time?
A. Beatles Revolver. 

Q. Do you have any children? Grandchildren?
A. No. I worry about the state of the world, racism, climate crisis, rampant capitalism, and what kind of world we’re leaving our kids. I just couldn’t do that to them.

Q. What’s your favorite radio show or Podcast?
A. Anything on NPR

Q. Who is your favorite novelist?
A. Colson Whitehead

Q. What books are you reading now?
A. Jyl Anais’ Soft Out Spoken, a wonderful book of poetry about mental health and recovery.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A. Listen

Q. Do you think addiction is an illness, a disease, a choice, or a wicked twist of fate?
A. It’s a witch’s brew of all of the above.

Q. What are five things you always carry with you?
A. Wallet, phone, keys, glasses, dignity.

Q. What is your favorite concert venue? A. City Winery

Q. What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken?
A. Contesting the State hospital doctor’s opinion and petitioning for my discharge from the hospital.

Q. What is your biggest mistake?
A. Accidentally taking my mother’s life during a marijuana induced psychotic break.

Q. What is the proudest moment in your life?
A. Publishing my memoir about my life and my successfully getting out of a psychiatric hospital.

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