The Hospital Always Wins – Exhibition – May 28, 2016

Screening this Saturday, June 11th, at 5pm
a musical documentary
by Issa Ibrahim
47min 37sec

“Patient’s Rites is my perspective from 20 years of being hospitalized. Think of it as a therapy session set to music.”

The artist and author will be present to sign copies of his book at the opening reception on
Thursday, June 2 from 6 to 9 pm.

Gallery open Tuesday through Saturday from 2 to 6 pm.

Directions to Local Project, 11-27 44th Rd. LIC, NY 11101:
Take the E, G, M, or 7 trains to Court Square Station.

If you can’t make it to the show you can buy the book online at

Luncheon On Grass, oil on canvas, 2015

Luncheon on Grass, 2015

Ibrahim was born into an artistic bohemian family who encouraged his self-expression and allowed him to attend art school as a teen and young adult.  When he was committed to Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, NY, it was natural for Ibrahim to turn to art to survive the long days on his ward.  Eventually, he was allowed to have a studio at The Living Museum on the grounds of Creedmoor where he flourished in an unusual art program that embraced creative freedom and expression.  The artist experimented with imprinting his body onto large unstretched canvases in very personal works he called “Body and Soul”, not unlike David Hammons body prints.  Other series spoke directly to the nightmare of his Creedmoor existence. Using expressionistic brushwork and a somber palette, Ibrahim’s emotional self-portraits exposed his anguish, while unflattering portraits of Creedmoor staff critiqued the mental healthcare system and were often confiscated by them.  More accessible, perhaps, are “The Superati” series of narrative paintings wherein the artist/protagonist Ibrahim has cast himself as Superman.  Using bright cheery colors and the graphic style of American comic books, Ibrahim superimposed his personal life stories onto Old Master compositions, such as The Birth of Wonder Woman after Botticelli, thus realizing multi-layered and complex autobiographical stories as well as social and political commentaries. Ibrahim paints self-portraits and super hero alter-egos with equal parts whimsy and warning that he disclosed are “a parallel narrative of life as a psych patient, a flawed Superman, learning to navigate the many identities I had to assume in the system in order to survive various barriers to freedom.”

As Ibrahim’s healing took root, he began to work on getting released.  His journey to freedom in his words was “against impossible odds with a system stacked against me.”  Using the sale of his paintings, Ibrahim was able to raise money for legal representation and ultimately secured his release.  His struggle and search for meaning in his life and for answers to an unspeakable tragedy resonate through Ibrahim’s art, music and writing.  Reflecting on his life of societal and personal damnation, Issa Ibrahim hopes his remarkable story of resilience and survival can make a difference and create a compassionate understanding of our relationship to the gift and curse of mental illness, drug abuse, art, and the art of living.

Issa Ibrahim was born in Queens, NY in 1965.  He attended the School of Art and Design, School of Visual Arts and The Art Students League in Manhattan.  He has exhibited in many gallery and non-profit spaces in the greater New York area as well as
group shows at Hofstra University and the Queens Art Museum. His art has also been featured in the HBO documentary, The Living Museum by Academy Award winning director, Jessica Yu. The Hospital Always Wins was the subject of an hour long NPR audio story and won the 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best News Documentary and the 2014 Third Coast/Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Director’s Choice Award.  Ibrahim is also an accomplished musician and film maker of musical documentaries.