Looking at the different pictures displayed on the wall during this exhibit at a downtown gallery, it’s almost impossible to tell which pieces are by professional artists and which were made by special needs students.
Alvin Roy is the owner of 1-On-1 Art, an art school for teenagers and young adults with special needs. About three times a year, students get to exhibit their art together with professional artists at Roy’s downtown studio.
“If these individuals didn’t show up, you would maybe or may not believe that an individual with special needs actually did this work. And that’s gratifying to me, to be able to blur that line and to say, yeah, these people are out here and they’re doing it and other people in the community get an opportunity to see it.”
Roy gave up his legal career and founded the school in 2006 after realizing what art did for his son Ezra, who has Down syndrome.
“I saw how he responded, you know, to associating things in general with art, and so I said, hey, I’m going to try this with somebody else and see if it works.”
It worked for 26-year-old Ramon Polk, who’s been a student at Roy’s school for about three years. Ramon has pervasive developmental disorder, a social disability. Ramon’s mother, Dr. Tina Oliver, says attending the art school helped her son a lot with socialization.
“When he came initially, he was kind of a quiet guy, more of an introvert type person, and since he’s been coming here and having more exposure, more socialization with friends, he’s really a little bit more outgoing, he’s working, he still goes to school.”
Ramon is pursuing a digital imaging degree at Houston Community College. He wants to develop software for video games.
Charles Hale, father of 24-year-old student Bryan Hale, says he would have never known that his son has artistic abilities if it weren’t for Roy and his school. He says for Bryan being able to show off his work to his peers and other people gives him a lot of self-confidence.
“You know, his brothers have the same artistic ability which I have, which is none, so he’s like, hey, I can do this and I’m a special person but I have special abilities.”
As for Roy’s son Ezra, he decided to follow into his father’s footsteps and is now studying arts at Texas Southern University.
The exhibit can be viewed by appointment until mid-January.
To make an appointment to view the exhibit or to sign up a person with special needs for the 1-On-1 Art school, you can call 713-408-6506 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about 1-On-1 Art and Alvin Roy at 1on1art.org.