“Let’s Drop the ‘Dis’ in Disability”: HCC Gallery Showcases Work of Father-Son Team Focusing on Art over Disability

The Houston Community College (HCC) Art Hub Gallery recently kicked off their spring semester with an abstract art exhibition entitled Rebirth – ezra my x rayRevival – Revolution: Works by Alvin & Ezra Roy.

The Forward Times covered the remarkable story of Alvin and Ezra Roy in a December 2014 article entitled, “What’s Your Excuse? The Triumphant Story of Ezra Roy”.

In the article, Ezra and his father were both celebrated, as Ezra became one of the first people with Down syndrome to graduate from a four-year university without having taken special education classes. Ezra graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Southern University (TSU).

The art exhibition kicked off at the gallery on January 14 to a standing room only crowd of community and students, located at the HCC Northeast Campus.  Attendees heard a lecture from artists Alvin and Ezra Roy, who discussed their works and triumphs.

The opening event was more than an art exhibition; it was a lesson about tapping into one’s ability when society says that it is impossible.

Alvin Roy’s story is truly inspiring and moving.  He began a promising career in law after serving eight years in the military, and when his infant son Ezra was diagnosed with Down syndrome, the single father was determined to make a difference in his son’s life.

During the artist lecture, Alvin admitted that when he first heard of his son’s diagnosis, he was afraid and wept for a couple of minutes.  He said that is when he had to quickly gather himself and allow his mental toughness and what he learned during his upbringing to kick in.

“It became me and Ezra against the world,” said Alvin. “There were many hurdles to overcome, but we never gave up.”

Alvin transitioned into an art career and taught his son how to draw and paint. Once he learned that his son was a high-functioning Down syndrome child, he fought for Ezra to be placed in general population classes at school and pushed for new methods of teaching.

The father-son duo continued their art journey throughout the years and Ezra eventually graduated from high school, passed both the SAT and ACT, then enrolled at Texas Southern University to study art.  Ezra graduated from TSU in December 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Art with honors; again, being the only person with Down syndrome in the country to ever do so.

During the lecture, Alvin asked all attendees who viewed their artwork to share this message with the world, “Let’s drop the ‘dis’ in disability and focus on a person’s ability.”

The exhibit features the abstract artwork of Alvin Roy that is derived from musical influences, relationships and history. Ezra’s work fluctuates between realism, African history and abstraction, which have turned disabling barriers into positive visions. One such piece features a self-portrait of Ezra as he imagines himself on the inside, while another shows him partaking in the typical activities of the millennial generation.

Alvin advocates for the abilities of teenagers and young adults who have special needs and provides professional mainstream art experiences through his Houston-based organization, 1-On-1 Art, Inc.  Both artists have shown locally and nationally and displayed their works in private collections.

The art exhibition will run thru February 11, 2016, and viewing is available Monday-Thursday from 1-5 p.m. and Fridays by appointment.

The HCC Art Hub Gallery is located at 555 Community College Drive, 77013.  For more information, call Dr. Hilda Gentry at 713.718.8329 or visit northeast.hccs.edu.