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Key Questions about Studies in the Fine Art Department

“I want to study art-making. What degree should I take?”

The BFA (Bachelor of Fine Art), which is four years in length, is the recommended undergraduate degree. You study four years of Studio Practice and four years of Art History & Visual Culture. You are also required to take two extra credits – either two first year subjects or two years of the same subject. You may choose any subject that does not clash with Studio Practice and Art History & Visual Culture course components. The degree is structured as follows:

First Year
Studio Practice 1
Art History & Visual Culture 1
1 first year course of your choice

Second Year
Studio Practice 2
Art History & Visual Culture 2
a further course of your choice

Third Year
Studio Practice 3
Art History & Visual Culture 3

Fourth Year
Studio Practice 4
Art History & Visual Culture 4

We also allow students to study art-making (Studio Practice) as part of a three-year BA degree, but potential students need to recognise that this entails an intensive loading of subjects during the first and second years. The course is structured as follows:

First Year
Studio Practice 1
Art History & Visual Culture 1
2 first year subjects of your choice

Second Year
Studio Practice 2
Art History & Visual Culture 2
2 other subjects of your choice

Third Year
Studio Practice 3
Art History & Visual Culture 3

 

A diploma in Fine Art is available for students who have not achieved university entrance but have a strong interest in Studio Practice. This course is currently the same as the BFA, except that students are required to complete only the courses in Studio Practice and Art History & Visual Culture.

“What exactly would I study in Studio Practice? When do I specialise? How limiting is the area of specialisation that I might choose?”

In your first year you are introduced to a variety of media and making processes. This enables you to explore various possibilities and to begin to ascertain your preferences. In your second year, you are given the opportunity to begin to make choices between different kinds of making processes. Two projects, using different media, are offered at any one time, and you are allowed to choose the project you prefer. In your third year of study, you define a major in the area of painting, printmaking, sculpture or photography, and this will occupy you in your fourth year as well. But making art in a contemporary context is not something ‘purist’, and, even after choosing your preferred medium, you are encouraged to work in other media as well if this suits your purposes. If, for example, you choose to major in painting, we would have no difficulty if you wanted to produce some works in three dimensions, or to make a print, or to work with photography, computers, video or indeed any other medium of your choice.

“What qualifications do I need to be accepted for courses in Studio Practice?”

You need to demonstrate some level of basic facility. But the capacity to draw realistically is certainly not our exclusive and primary criterion. A capacity to think creatively, a willingness to learn to use materials inventively, and an enjoyment of the process of making objects and images is the major priority. While most people who decide to do art have studied the subject until the Grade 12 level at school, this is not a requirement. We would like to see some evidence of what you can produce, and you are asked to submit a portfolio of photographs of images you have made to us.

“Can I study one year of Studio Practice rather than majoring in the subject?”

No. Studio Practice is designed for people who want to major in the subject, and would not serve any purpose if studied for only a year.

“Do you teach digital arts and video?”

Yes. There are projects at the first-year and second-year levels that deal with these areas as well as opportunities to major in Digital Arts.

“Do you teach graphic design?”

Not specifically. Studio Practice is designed to develop your creative skills, enabling you to pursue a career in a variety of art fields. We believe that a specifically vocational orientation within the course would in fact limit the areas in which you would be eligible for employment in the future.

“I am interested in learning about art, but I do not want to make art. Are there courses I can take in the department that cater for this interest?”

Yes. Art History & Visual Culture can be taken by students who are not studying Studio Practice. You do not need any art-making skills to study Art History & Visual Culture: the course will not ask you to produce art.

“Can I take just one year of Art History & Visual Culture?”

Yes. While Art History & Visual Culture can be studied as a major (i.e. for three years), it differs from Studio Practice in the sense that it can also be taken at only the first year level or for two years.

“What value is there is taking Art History & Visual Culture without studying Studio Practice?”

Art History & Visual Culture teaches you visual literacy. It enables you to interpret not only art works but also all kinds of visual forms and images. Also, it teaches you to articulate this understanding verbally and in written form. It provides you with skills to work in a variety of art-related fields (see the question on career opportunities below). And apart from having an independent status and use value, Art History & Visual Culture is also an excellent complement to courses such as Journalism and Media Studies, English, Drama, Music, History, Psychology, Philosophy and Sociology – indeed just about any areas of study offered within the Humanities Faculty.

“What opportunities are there for postgraduate studies in the Fine Art Department?”

Students who want to pursue postgraduate studies in the making of art may register for an MFA. For MFA studies, students produce a body of works and write a dissertation or long essay. We also offer postgraduate courses in Art History. A BA (Hons) in Art History is available to students who have completed three years of Art History & Visual Culture, and this enables you to proceed to MA and PhD studies. Students studying a BA (Hons) complete coursework as well as a long essay. Students studying an MA write a thesis. Students studying a PhD write a dissertation.

“What kinds of career opportunities are there for graduates who have studied Studio Practice and/or Art History & Visual Culture?”

A common misconception is that training in Studio Practice and/or Art History & Visual Culture is a luxury and does not prepare one for any career. Actually, quite the opposite is true. A whole range of career possibilities are available to graduates who have completed our courses, and the variety of options available depends only on whether you have undertaken both practical and theoretical studies, your particular areas of aptitude and interest, and the other courses you have included in your degree.

Studies in our department provide you with skills to be a professional artist or photographer, to pursue an academic career, and to teach – whether in a high school, community college or in your own private studio or art school. You will also glean the skills to pursue curatorial, educational and administrative work in art museums or as a freelance consultant. Your understanding of art will, in addition, provide you with the grounding to look towards running your own art gallery or art dealership, to work at an auction house such as Sotheby’s, or to be employed as a curator/manager for a corporate art collection. You will have the skills to participate in community arts projects – whether in the arena of project development or marketing. Our training would also provide an excellent grounding for entering the field of arts management – whether in the context of a government organisation such as the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology or a non-government organisation. Knowledge of visual culture is also an excellent basis for entering the tourist industry – not simply as a tour guide but as an administrator or curator of an organisation catering for tourist markets (such as The Robben Island Museum or The Apartheid Museum). You will also learn skills that will serve you well if you want to enter the film/video industry, whether in the fields of scriptwriting, art direction, styling, camera operation or production, for example. Visual literacy is essential for just about all aspects of work in the advertising industry, but is particularly necessary for working in print and TV advertising. Skills in making art can be directed towards set design and costume design for theatre productions. And arts journalism is yet another option for our graduates, particularly those who show an aptitude for writing and theory. Some art history graduates select publishing as a field of interest, and join publishing houses that produce art books and exhibition catalogues. And some studio practice graduates who combine their studies with psychology move into the field of art therapy.

Last Modified : Wed, 31 May 2017 16:47:26 SAST