Every detail of Inside Art came about because of thoughtful decisions the Inside Art team felt would inspire young museum goers and their families. However, one object stands out, quite literally - a larger-than-life fuzzy squirrel tail. What makes this handmade squirrel tail special is that it was once the Halloween costume of Jack Carter Mix, now 11 years old.
When we found a picture of the tail online, we knew we had to have it for Inside Art, because the tail mirrored a squirrel sculpture in the collection by Walter Anderson so well.
Walter I. Anderson, American (active in Mississippi), 1903 - 1965, Squirrel, ca. 1945, Wood, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; Gift of Brooks Art Gallery League 46.2. © Estate of the artist
What we didn’t know was that Jack, then 9 years old, had just finished an intense life-changing year of chemotherapy to aggressively treat his very rare cancer. He was told that without weekly chemo and daily radiation, his cancer would quickly become fatal. When his mother, Tina Mix, asked Jack if it was okay for her to make another tail for the Brooks, he replied, “I’d love it if MY tail were in a museum.”
The fact that he gave away something that meant so much to him didn’t surprise his mom at all.
“He’s always been a generous, selfless kid,” explained Mix. “During his treatment people brought us food, gift cards, helped with the kids. He saw the amazing people in the world and saw that we are capable of anything with people looking out for you,” she said.
Mix said that Jack wanted to keep moving it forward. “It’s a motto of ours. Don’t get stuck in a moment, move past it and move forward.”
Since his generous gift to the Brooks and his intensive treatment program, we’re thrilled to report that Jack has been in remission for 18 months and he is a happy healthy 11-year-old. Jack and the rest of the Mix family, his mom and his dad, Jimmy, little sister Abby and little brother Max, traveled to Memphis from New Jersey and visited Inside Art to see the squirrel tail in its new home.
When he squeezed into the squirrel tail and the family saw the label the Brooks had made to honor his gift, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, except for Jack’s. He was all smiles.
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