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ACC Student Finding New Horizons at 90

Oletia Teas

Oletia Teas has been an artist all over life, finding inspiration all around her, even as a kid.

She recalls once playing in the mud so much that her parents tried to keep her from using the water outside.

“My mother had my dad take a handle off the faucet to keep me out of the mud,” Teas said with a gentle laugh.

Undeterred, Teas learned how to put the handle back on so she could get back to making mud pies.

“I figured it out with a pair of plyers,” she said.

Teas is still keeping her hands dirty at the age of 90 while she continues to hone her craft in an Alvin Community College Sculpture course.

“I need a challenge in art,” she said. “I love playing with clay. I just love the feel of it.”

After raising her children and owning a hobby shop, Teas felt the need to find a new outlet for her inspiration. Her interests have run the gamut of art mediums throughout her career as an artist including oil painting, pencil color and ceramics.

“There’s always something more to do,” she said.

As she toils away on her latest piece, Kenneth Bartholomew, known on the ACC campus as “Mr. B” walks around the pottery studio making sure students have what they need. Bartholomew, an assistant with the Art Department, turns 91 in November and always feels encouraged to see artist like Teas at the college.

“If you don’t like what you’re doing, you have to change something,” he said with his trademark smile. “Age doesn’t make a difference.”

Bartholomew started attending courses in 1974 to encourage his son to enroll at college. Since that time, Bartholomew has earned four Associate Degrees at the college though he admits he’s taking a break from the classroom.

He continues to work on campus because he enjoys working with others and gaining inspiration from his fellow students.

“I learn from them,” he said. “They learn some from me and they learn from each other. I like being around young people. It makes me feel younger.”

Teas said more than anything, she likes to stay active. The avid square dancer has felt cloistered since the COVID-19 shutdown and wanted to spend more time out of the house.

“I’m hyper and I love to do traveling,” she said. “I have to have something to do.”

Teas carries a camera and a sketch pad everywhere so she can get ideas for her next piece.

“I get inspiration all over the place,” she said.

While she is back in college, Teas said she’s not planning on earning a degree. She just wants to stay educated.

“I still have more to learn,” she said.