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Houstonian artist with Down syndrome to exhibit at New York gallery
Houston artist Ezra Roy, 29, is busy preparing for an art exhibition in Jazz Gallery in New York, which he will open with his father – and creative partner – Alvin Roy, 60 in January 2018.
Alvin Roy is proud of his son – Ezra will be one of the first U.S. artists with Down syndrome to exhibit his work on the national level, his father says.
« I don’t think there are very many people out here who would ever consider that …a possibility, » Alvin Roy said.
Alvin Roy despaired at first when Ezra was diagnosed at birth in 1988 with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder which causes growth and intellectual delays. Yet his father always believed in his son’s potential.
« When I received the news about Ezra’s illness my first reaction was actually one of grief. I cried for 25 minutes and I looked at him and realized what he was going to face. I decided to help (him) accept this condition and assimilate into society just as anyone else would, » Alvin Roy recalls.
Ezra’s father and mother soon separated and so Alvin Roy raised his son mostly alone.
At that time, Alvin Roy was a young aspiring attorney, but Ezra’s health was so fragile that he needed a series of medical procedures. So his father decided to change careers.
« I realized that I have a duty as a parent to raise this child and not pass this responsibility onto somebody else… I had studied art and had initially an intention to pursue an art career, so I revived it, » he said.
At the same time, Alvin Roy started teaching his son about art.
Ezra Roy soon gravitated towards painting. He graduated from high school and entered the university. In 2014, he earned a bachelor’s degree in art with honors from Texas Southern University.
He has developed his own artistic style. His paintings contain many references to African art and Hip Hop culture. Among other things, he has difficulty speaking, but he reveals his personal experiences through his work. « I knew I could do art, I knew I could draw and paint, » he said in an interview after his graduation.
He works with his father closely at their gallery Royal Grafix Fine Art on Chenevert St. He’s previously exhibited his art locally, including at Houston City Hall, Texas Southern University Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s Five-A Exhibitions.
But the exhibit in New York will give him a higher profile, break down barriers and keep him from being « marginalized » as a disabled artist, Alvin Roy says.