March 17, 2021 – As I lurked on Facebook, chatting with various peer advocates in New York, I saw Issa Ibrahim’s paintings and heard bits of his story of having been hospitalized at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center for almost 20 years. Creedmoor. It’s a state psychiatric facility in Queens, which has long-term psychiatric units and also forensic units. I have worked with people who have lived on its campus, and I know it’s not a pretty place.

Yet during this time, Issa created purpose in his life by utilizing Creedmoor’s “Living Museum,” a massive art studio available for use by patients, residents and staff. He was featured in The Living Museum, an HBO documentary from 1998. This 10-minute segment shows many of his works: 

Living in a hospital is highly demotivating. There is little stimulation beyond meals, standing in line to get your medications, and group therapy sessions. To pass time, it’s easy to just lay in bed all day. For exercise, you walk up and down the hallways. You’re lucky if there’s a ping-pong table. You have no access to a cell phone, nor a computer with an internet connection. (Short-term units usually permit neither.) While the outside world continues at its pace, life on a unit makes time stand still.


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