Mia is Empowering

In March 2021, Hannah Puffer dropped by the museum with her daughter, Sofia, 9, and son, Lewyn, 7. Still in the throes of the pandemic, the museum galleries were closed. Yet a table in the lobby was set up, where each child scored a fun takeaway: a Family Day Art Tote.

Neither child generally needs much prompting in the creativity department, their mom says. They are ferocious art makers, “into creating and designing and inventing. My mother-in-law would say, ‘Great job coloring in the lines.’ I’m like, ‘They don’t need to color in the lines!’ They’re amazing at doing art on their own.”

The Family Day Art Tote, filled with art- making supplies and project ideas, is a nod to Mia’s monthly Family Day. That month’s totes emphasized African American artists and subjects. The children, who have two social workers for parents, are bi-racial. “When they started looking at it, they were so excited,” Puffer says. “It was really great to expand their narrative.” Sofia drew a picture of Ruby Bridges, the 6-year-old who

in 1960 became the first African American student to integrate an elementary school in the South. Around Bridges’s striding figure, Sofia wrote traits she associates with the civil rights icon: Proud! Strong! Brave! Courage! Happy! Excited! Passionate! Determined! Hopeful! Beautiful!

“Look at all these amazing words I can use with this little girl,” her mom recalls Sofia saying. The drawing made Sofia proud—so much so, she asked her mom to send a self- portrait showcasing her drawing to Mia.

Puffer is grateful for the way Mia encourages kids to explore, be messy, let their imaginations run wild. Making art, she says, “is not always a directive. It doesn’t have to produce something to hang on our refrigerator.”