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Abstract art, concrete impact

Wilson’s paintings displayed at Glenview Public Library
Molly Tomczyk
Array of Art: Wilson’s VisAbility Exhibition portrayed vibrant colors, splattered across canvases in various designs. The artist’s reception attendees sauntered through the Glenview Public Library taking in the collection.

Jazz music rippled through the crowded lobby of the Glenview Public Library on a Thursday evening; colorful paintings adorned the walls, creating a gallery of senior Emmett Kyoshi Wilson’s acrylic-painted creations. Excited chatter filled the once-empty lobby into a bustling art show, filled with Wilson’s friends, family, and acquaintances.

The library selects an artist every two months in order to introduce their artwork to the community, Hilary Gabel, Glenview Public Library Communications Director, said. 

This March, Wilson was chosen as the artist, displaying his VisAbility Exhibition. Later this year, Wilson will be launching Emmett’s World Foundation; This aims to increase companies’ awareness of people with disabilities’ lack of representation in media, Wilson’s mother, Kathy Menighan Wilson explained. Emmett’s World Foundatiom is connected to the VisAbility Agency, she added. The VisAbility Exhibition is spelled that way for a reason, Menighan Wilson,  said.

“Emmett’s platform since he started doing his art shows is to [show] that everyone has a gift, no matter what their abilities [are],” Menighan Wilson said. “He is giving people an opportunity to see what he does [with] his gift.”

The VisAbility Exhibition showcases Wilson’s pieces from over the past 10 years, according to They deliver a theme of celebrating differences, Wilson explained.

“It shows inclusion and uniques[ness], embracing Down syndrome,” Wilson said.

In order for an artist’s work to appear in the library, they must go through a submission process, Gabel said. Artists send in a description of their pieces, an artist statement, a link to their website, and contact information,, said. Upon seeing Wilson’s work, Gabel was impressed, she said.

“I love the vibrant colors and expressive brushstrokes in Emmett’s paintings,” Gabel explained. “You really get a sense that he is passionate about his work.”

Gabel’s favorite painting is Sunset and Raindrops under the Moonlight, she said; but there are many more paintings such as Glow and the Dark, Lulubelle, The Gift, and USA, to name a few. The painting Clementine, which was auctioned May 9, was inspired by Emmett’s cousin, Wilson said. Ultimately, the piece, along with merchandise sold, raised $500 for The Glenview Public Library Foundation and $500 for the Northfield Food Pantry, Menighan Wilson explained. Clementine, who is now 4-years-old, was one of the attendees at the art show, Menighan Wilson added.

During the event, library patrons reacted with a mix of excitement, curiosity and surprise, she said. Seeing people enjoy her son’s art, brought Menighan Wilson joy, too.

“Nothing makes me happier than to see people watch and react to [the art],” Menighan Wilson said. “I’ve even gone to the library and watched people [react]. That fills my heart so much.”

Even though this art exhibition was recent, Wilson has been painting long before, starting at eight years old. When he started painting, Wilson felt happy. He continues this positivity throughout his art journey as painting fills him with joy, love, and excitement.

Wilson was glad people could come enjoy his artwork at the library and hopes they will feel happy, too, when they see it, he explained.

“It was wonderful to have everyone see [the art],” Wilson said.

Wilson hopes to keep painting this summer, he said. Beyond that, he will continue to share his art in places past Glenview, taking his collections to other schools and spaces, Menighan Wilson said.

“In the future, [my hope is] to spearhead [Emmett’s World] Foundation and [tell] everyone out there [to not] underestimate a person by  their disability,” Menighan Wilson said. “Emmett wants to bring more peace and love to the world.”

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