Madness, Creativity, and the Artistic Pursuit with Issa Ibrahim

Madness, Creativity, and the Artistic Pursuit with Issa Ibrahim


The Icarus Project began with the realization that Madness can be a great source of inspiration and creativity, with the goal of learning how to navigate between being inspired by Madness while remaining grounded in the world. Madness and altered states of mind provide alternative frameworks and perspectives on reality, and madness can become a source of great wisdom and an inspiration for incredible art. The artist is someone who sees the world in a novel way and pushes the boundaries of the possible, using a medium to express ideas and communicate their observation on the world and the human condition. Sascha Altman DuBrul, one of the original founders of the Icarus Project, pursued creative expression through punk rock.

Historically, art, pain, and madness were seen as being intimately linked. Whether through painting, sketching, musical performance, creative writing, journaling, or dance, creative expression and the use of a medium provide us with ways of externalizing, manifesting, and exploring our thoughts, our struggles, our anxieties, our observations, and our dreams.

In this Icarus-NYC gathering, we will be joined by two NYC artists who identify as Mad – Issa Ibrahim and Susan Spangenberg. Issa’s and Susan’s art explores their own experiences with madness, the social and political representation of madness, and madness in the context of the mental health services system. Susan is a multimedia artist who uses her art in satirical, subversive, and ironic ways to draw attention to the problems, limitations, and abuses present in mental health system. Issa is a painter, instrumentalist and vocalist, short film and independent music videos producer and the author of a book – The Hospital Always Wins – an autobiographical work exploring his experience with long term hospitalization at Creedmore Hospital. Issa has also appeared on interviews with the Daily Beast, NPR, and WNYC discussing his art, his own experiences with madness, and the mental health services establishment. Issa and Susan are resident artists of the independent Issues Gallery and regularly display their art at exhibitions in various venues through NYC. Issa’s work is on display at the Living Museum, an in-house art gallery at Creedmore Hospital. Issa and Susan can regularly be found doing presentations of their work at art exhibitions at the Fountain House, shooting independent music videos, and keeping company to Schizo and Cray Cray, their two resident crazy cats.

During the gathering, Issa and Susan will discuss their artwork, how they use art as a creative and expressive medium to communicate ideas, and their sources of inspiration. We will also explore how art and various creative outlets can be used as a means to explore ourselves and our minds, and the use of art in the context of self care and relaxation.


  • our project introduction

  • shared reading of our Community Agreements

  • group Introductions and Safety Guidelines

  • Group Discussion

  • Movement Activity

  • Sharing of support and resources

  • Closing Activity

  • Check Out

TRANSPARENCY: Though we are committed to collective liberation and are a mixed race collective, our history has traditionally brought in white, middle class people. In order to protect Queer Trans People of Color (QTPOC) from tokenization and psychic harm, we as a collective commit to prioritizing the needs of QTPOC in our public events and promoting QTPOC leadership in our collective. We acknowledge the emotional labor that QTPOC may perform in these spaces, which often go unrecognized. Therefore, we want white cisgender people to independently undo racism, gender binarism / sexism, while remaining accountable to QTPOC. We are currently engaging in an ongoing process of integrating these goals internally within our organization, among our mixed race organizers, and within the structuring of our external events. *

ACCESS ISSUES: The space is accessible for wheelchair users but does not have a bathroom for wheelchair users. We use mics to support people who are hard of hearing.

Bluestockings is wheelchair accessible, with no steps or platforms, and wide aisles between shelves. Our bathroom is not wheelchair accessible. There is a Starbucks two short blocks down the street with an accessible bathroom (at Allen and Delancey). Metered street parking is readily available in the blocks surrounding Bluestockings. Bluestockings is not a scent-free space, but we encourage visitors to please refrain from wearing perfumes, colognes or other scented products (including essential oils) and smoke far away from the entrance to the space.

And then we’ll hang out for a little while and be gone until another month. Make sure to sign-up for the mailing list at the event or email

NYC Icarus FB event

NYC Icarus website

DATE: Dec. 4th, 2019

TIME: 7pm

LOCATION: Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen St, Manhattan

Hope to see you there! Mad love, Icarus Project NYC