Jimmeka Mills

The works of local father-and-son-duo Alvin and Erza Roy are currently being displayed at the Northeast College’s Art Hub Gallery. The Roys’ artwork will be on display at the Codwell campus from now until Feb. 11.

Jimmieka Mills, News Editor

The Houston Community College Codwell campus Art Hub Gallery held its first exhibit of the spring semester, entitled ‘Rebirth-Revival-Revolution,’ showcasing the works of Alvin and Ezra Roy.
The father and son duo are native to Houston and have garnered a following as far as Eastern Europe.

Their story of perseverance in the face of adversity began three days after Ezra was born, when a doctor announced a diagnosis that initially overwhelmed Alvin. Ezra was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes growth and intellectual delays.

“I remember being devastated,” says Alvin, “that lasted for about 2 minutes. I drew upon the strength of my grandparents who had never given up in the face of adversity.”

Alvin, an army veteran, had no idea that the battle had just begun. Within two years after Ezra’s birth, his biological mother abandoned the family and the single father was left to pick up the pieces.
Alvin had started a promising career in law after serving in the military. However, he switched his profession to art, which he had always loved, when he realized how well his son responded to it. “I began to notice his association with color and saw how it excited him.”

The single father began teaching his son how to draw and paint. He used art as a teaching tool to expand Ezra’s vocabulary and phonic sensibilities. “When Ezra was growing up, my house looked like a rainbow coalition! There were sticky notes everywhere with vocabulary words to help Ezra to learn.”

In 2006 Alvin Roy founded an art education program called 1-On-1 Art, where today he trains other teenagers and young adults with Down Syndrome and autism. He uses the special techniques that helped Ezra to achieve what was once thought to be impossible. In 2014 Ezra graduated magna cum laude from Texas Southern University, becoming the first-known individual with his condition to earn a degree from TSU.

Since many special-needs individuals lack exposure to artistic possibilities as a means of self-expression, the 1-On-1 Art curriculum is designed to help students develop their motor skills, while increasing their self-esteem.

“My personal goal is to provide the students with such, and extend community awareness of the artistic talent of young people with special needs in the Houston area,” Alvin stated in his mission statement for 1-On-1 Art, Inc.

Though the exhibit was a showing of the duo’s artwork, many in attendance at the Codwell campus gallery took away much more.

“I was literally in tears listening to Alvin speak of his love for his son,” said Cameron Williams, a graphic artist and local community member attending the gallery opening. “I was told by one of my friends who attends HCC that there was an exhibit that I may gain inspiration from in my own work. I did not expect this!”

As a father of two young boys, Williams can remember the births of both his children and the concerns he had for his children’s health. “I remember checking to see if they had 10 fingers and 10 toes. We never even considered cognitive delays and a syndrome that could potentially affect their quality of life.”

When asked what he would like those attending the exhibit to take away from it, the elder Roy stated, “I want people to know that everyone has a disability. Whether it’s physical or will manifest itself later in life, we all have some sense of disability. I would like for people to purely focus on one’s ability.”

Ezra’s work has been sold commercially and showcased at Houston City Hall. Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker has previously proclaimed Jan. 6 as Ezra Roy Day in the city.
Alvin and Ezra Roy’s artwork will be on display at the Codwell Campus’ art gallery until Feb. 11, Monday through Thursday, and Fridays by appointment. Contact: 713-718-8329