A holistic foundation for a successful career in the arts

Words: Mashaole Makwela, Fine Art senior lecturer and course coordinator

The Vaal University of Technology (VUT) offers Fine Art courses at different levels that emphasise the mission of the university by ensuring that graduates have the academic and technical skills to negotiate the art world effectively and achieve excellence.

Vaal University of Technology VUT
Staff exhibition 2016

The Fine Art courses offered by the Department of Visual Arts and Design at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) are multidisciplinary in nature. Through research, teaching and learning, these courses explore both traditional and technological fine art-related disciplines. The core objective of the courses is to equip each individual with the skills to become creative and professional, competent visual practitioners and entrepreneurs sensitive to community and global needs.
     VUT offers a three-year diploma in Fine Art, a MA in Visual Arts: Fine Art (two years) and a PhD in Visual Arts. An advanced diploma and a post-graduate diploma in Fine Art are currently being registered with the Department of Higher Education (DHE) and will soon be available to those wishing to take their academic knowledge and technical skills to higher levels. The previous Fine Art courses, i.e. the national diploma, BTech, MTech and DTech qualifications, are presently being phased out.
     State-of-the-art facilities for both traditional (e.g. ceramics, surface printing, sculpture and painting) and technological (e.g. digital arts and product design) artistic making processes are available, a combination that is not found at many other institutions in South Africa. In fact, VUT’s Fine Art courses are among the few in the country to offer digital imaging or digital arts as a major elective subject.

Vaal University of Technology VUT
Art by Nombuso Maseko

     The diversity of the course offering and the high level of training and skills transfer provided attracts students from all over the world, including Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Ukraine, to name a few. Nationally, students from Limpopo, Free State, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and North West travel to take advantage of these industry-tailored programmes.
     Fine Art alumni, both young and old, are a testament to the high level of training provided through the courses. While not all are working as fine artists, they are making meaningful contributions in various visual arts or creative industries and related disciplines. Notable alumni include Dr Ian Robert Marley (an academic and practising artist), Richardt Strydom (practising artist and 1997 Absa L’Atelier merit award winner), Captain Ludomo Gqotso (senior forensic analyst for the South African Police Service), Lebogang Motaung (practising artist), Thato Nhlapo (practising artist and entrepreneur), Sabelo Mabuza (practising artist and photographer), Tebogo Ralesai (assistant curator at Goodman Gallery), Thully Hlatswayo (production designer and art director for TV shows) and Ivy Rihlampfu (practising artist and social entrepreneur), to name a few.
     The Fine Art section (both students and staff members) continues to produce contemporary, high-quality creative and artistic works that address community and global needs.