Artists on Coping: Meer Musa

During the Coronavirus pandemic, Art Spiel is reaching out to artists to learn how they are coping.


Meer Musa at his live-in studio in Washington Heights. Photo: Odvar Daley

Meer Musa graduated from Parsons School of Design with a BFA in Communication Design and studied at the School of Visual Arts. He is a co-founder of Trans-cen-der Art Group, a monthly curated artist talk and slide-share event that takes place at Brooklyn Fire Proof. He has exhibited in the Luhring Augustine Gallery, NYC; Sikkema Jenkins & Co. NYC; ZieherSmith Gallery, NYC; Westbeth Gallery, NYC; The Border Project Space. Brooklyn; David and Schweitzer Contemporary Gallery, Brooklyn, among others. His art is inspired and deeply informed by people, nature, and spirituality.

AS: How are you coping?

MM: I had to research the term “coping” to figure out if and how I am coping. I would say with the help of keeping a daily routine as best as possible, and not getting swept away by distractions often triggered by our minds not wanting to face the current reality. I make sure not to miss my daily yoga and meditation practice first thing in the morning after a shower and cup of coffee. I do 30 minutes of yoga and one hour of meditation each day, and am proud to have reached my goal of 365 consecutive days without missing a session, according to the Insighttimer meditation app. This practice energizes me and lifts my mood so I’m able to deal with what’s happening at the present time. The clarity I cultivate becomes my guidance for how to navigate my day going forward. This practice is a refuge and has been my source of power at times of uncertainty. Most days, I go for a walk when the sun is shining and the sky is clear. I put on a face mask and keep safe distances along with most everyone else. Going for a walk outside has been the highlight of my day and a mood lifter.

Another highlight has been making time for creativity. I’ve been continuing to work on my Paris painting series, as well as drawings of household items I do most evenings. Working on these smaller pieces brings a sense of calm and inner peace and helps me have a good night’s rest. Which is needed to face the next day.


La Favorite Cafe, 2020, 16″ x 20″, Oil on canvas

AS: Has anything changed in your routine or approach?

MM: The first week the pandemic hit, two of my part-time work locations closed. I didn’t create a routine of the day, and felt overwhelmed with uncertainty about my financial circumstances and the well-being of my family, particularly my Mom who is in her mid-70s. I was also concerned about my artist friends, our artist community, and my co-workers. But by the middle of the second week, I started to feel calmer with the help of meditation and yoga, and by recognizing that we don’t have any control over what will happen. We can only choose to live with calmness and clarity, making choices that are wise and compassionate towards ourselves and others.


Day Dreamer, 2020, 16″ x 20″, Oil on canvas

AS: What matters most to you right now?

MM: To stay present and choose how to go about my day, with actions that best serve my creative progress and help build my future. To be aware how each of the choices I make day-to-day can serve our community for the better. Because of our interconnection, the choices we make every day matter to all of us. I let my inner wisdom and compassion guide me.


Max in Aubervilliers, 2020, 16″ x 20″, Oil on canvas

AS: Can you describe some of your feelings about all this?

MM: I’m looking at the pandemic as an opportunity for all of us to slow down and find blessings in the midst of chaos. We have an opportunity now to search within. Ask questions to ourselves about what matters most. We have the precious gift of time to slow down, to reflect and possibly learn something new, or take the first steps towards what we have always dreamed of doing. I’m fortunate to be healthy and in a safe place, with a roof over my head and savings. I am focusing on what I’m grateful for. This helps me feel better about the situation we are currently in. We are creators of our own reality, and though terrible, the pandemic is something of an opportunity and gift allowing us to explore our creative endeavors.


Max the Muse, 2020, 16″ x 20″, Oil on canvas

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

MM: I know everything changes and this too shall pass. When we come out of this situation, where do you want to be? Do we stay with our sorrow and grief, or do we take this opportunity to grow and become more empowered? I choose to be the latter. I care and feel deeply about the lives lost, those currently suffering and those who are in the process of recovery. I am wishing good thoughts and prayers towards their well-being during my daily morning meditation practice. Especially towards our essential workers and caregivers. I am hoping this terrible event can lead to a shift within our collective consciousness, and have a positive impact on the world around us. These are my wishes for a better future with an open mind, for whatever will be, will be.


Fireside, 2020, 20″ x 16″, Oil on canvas
Catherine Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer based in New York. She wrote the introductions to Meryl Meisler’s two books, and is currently working on an oral history about recent changes in photography.