Guests enjoy Chowan events

Published 9:23 am Tuesday, June 16, 2009

MURFREESBORO – A Sunday afternoon reception at the Ella Cobb Camp President’s Home and, about a block away, an exhibition of the university’s art in Green Hall highlighted Sunday afternoon on the Chowan University campus in Murfreesboro, drawing visitors from throughout the area.

Included in the art exhibited was pottery by Doug Eubank, who taught at Chowan University for more than 30 years, retiring in 2004 as Professor Emeritus of Visual Art; paintings by Bertie County native Francis Speight; portraits and paintings by Sarah Blakeslee, wife of Francis Speight; paintings, including one of The Columns building on the Chowan campus, by David Parker; and paintings and a series of nude studies by Tulie Speight, an alumna of Chowan and sister of Francis Speight.

The reception began at 3 p.m. and the first floor of the President’s Home quickly filled with area residents visiting throughout its tastefully decorated rooms.

Refreshments were served in the dining room, just inside and to the right of the home’s entry. At the rear of the home, Chowan President Dr. Chris White and Mrs. White greeted and visited with guests in the home’s den and, outside, more guests gathered in the garden area and comfortable outdoor room just behind the home’s garage.

DOUG EUBANK (1944- )

Eubank was born in Lexington, KY, in 1944. He was an associate professor at Chowan, holding a master’s degree in higher education and a bachelor’s from Morehead State University in Morehead, KY. He did additional graduate study at East Tennessee State University and at Morehead in painting, drawing and pottery. He attended the Penland School of Crafts in Penland, NC.

He taught at Chowan from 1971 until 2004. While at Chowan, he conducted several pottery workshops in regional colleges, schools and trade guilds. He has been featured in many juried national shows throughout his career, earning several awards. His awards profile includes residency sponsorship from the North Carolina Arts Council, purchase prizes from the American Crafts Council and the Border Biennial at the Museum of York County, South Carolina, as well as a North Carolina Regional Artist grant.

He has been published in Clay Times, Ceramics Monthly and in a pottery text entitled “500 Teapots.” His work is found in many personal collections, including that of former President Jimmy Carter and the Rawls Museum of Art in Courtland, VA.


Speight began his art career in an effort to illustrate his drawings, but he quickly turned to painting landscapes, instead. Encouraged by his sister Tulie, he studied at Meredith College in Raleigh before moving on to the Corcoran School of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he had a variety of opportunities to tour the art museums of Europe.

He later served as an instructor at the Academy, and it was in that position that he met Sarah Blakeslee. The two were married and raised a family, working throughout Pennsylvania and North Carolina and finally retiring to the Greenville area.

Speight’s work appeared in numerous exhibits along the eastern seaboard. He was admitted to the National Academy of Design in 1940 and to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1953.


Blakeslee’s childhood was marked by frequent moves between her native Midwest and Washington, D.C. She began formal art training in the Midwest, studying in Muskegon, Mich., and later at the Art Institute of Chicago. She studied further at the Corcoran School of Art and the Country School of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Chester Springs, PA., where she met Francis Speight.

In 1937, both she and Speight received commissions from the U.S. Treasury Department to paint post office murals, hers in Strasburg, VA, and his in Gastonia, NC.

Blakeslee exhibited work in a variety of solo and group exhibitions throughout her long career and in her later years, her portraits were much in demand.


Parker studied at East Carolina University, the Secondary Teachers College at Melbourne University (Australia), The National Gallery Art School in Melbourne, The Art Students League in New York, and Campbell College (now Campbell University, Buies Creek, NC).

He also worked under the tutelage of Francis Speight and Sarah Blakeslee for 10 years.

His work has appeared in solo exhibitions throughout North Carolina and group exhibitions throughout the United States. Many of his pieces are in permanent collections of institutions, corporations and private individuals.

Parker has worked as a commercial artist and illustrator as well as an art educator, teaching at Brighton Grammar School in Melbourne, Greenville City Schools (North Carolina), East Carolina University, Meredith College (Raleigh, NC), and at Chowan University.

Now mostly retired from teaching, Parker still teaches part time for Carteret Community College and Arts and Things Gallery in Morehead City.

TULIE SPEIGHT (1891-1976)

Tulie Speight is an alumna of Chowan, attending from 1906-1910.

After attending Chowan, she went on to study at Meredith College in Raleigh.

She encouraged her brother, the award-winning Francis Speight, to take up art at the college in Raleigh.


Chowan University was founded in 1848 by Baptists of northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. It was known as Chowan Baptist Female Institute until 1910 when it became Chowan College. It began enrolling men in 1931 and continued to operate as a four-year college until 1937 when it became a two-year residential college.

It closed in 1943 during World War II, and re-opened in 1949 as a private two-year, co-educationsl college supported by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

Chowan returned to four-year status in August 1992, enrolling juniors for the first time in 57 years. It began awarding baccalaureate degrees again on May 14, 1994.

University status was approved by the board of trustees on April 6, 2006 and became official on Sept. 1, 2006.

On April 2, 2009, the board approved moving forward with establishing the university’s first graduate program.

Chowan University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.