For 15-year-old Emmett Kyoshi Wilson, painting is much more than a passion. It’s a gift.
Emmett's parents discovered that gift while trying to teach him to write at age 4. His mom, Kathy Menighan Wilson, says, “With Down Syndrome, he had such a hard time holding a pencil and didn’t want to. Didn’t even want to hold a crayon.”
So she went out and bought some painting supplies.
"It was like eureka, and he starts making these motions. You can honestly see it in his art now,” Wilson said.
Emmett's parents knew they were on to something. So they just let him paint.
"It was such an impactful form of expression for him," said Paul Wilson, Emmett's dad, "because he had challenges drawing and writing and speaking, so when he painted it was just like a fluid, spontaneous form of expression.”
They started noticing Emmett's confidence building and decided to mount an exhibition to show off his paintings.
"We hung everything up, sent out the postcards and the emails, and we had over 225 people show up,” Wilson said.
They raised $8,000 to benefit the National Association for Down Syndrome. They have since mounted two other benefit shows, and in total, they raised more than $50,000 for charity. This year the pandemic forced them to think of a new way to give back. So they decided to auction off a painting to raise money for the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
The auction happens Saturday.
“As much as he loves the process of painting, I think it’s the giving-back aspect that really satisfies him,” says Emmett's dad.