Department of Visual Art Department of Visual Art

Department of Visual Art

Alexa Pienaar, 3rd year Visual Art student 2017 who was the Department's winner of the Dean's Award Exhibition 2017


... provides an exciting experimental space in which we aim to develop our students’ creative, imaginative and critical knowledge. We include both practical skills and academic research capabilities which will enable students to practise as artists within the domains of the visual-cultural industries, and/or to engage in postgraduate study in visual art.

We equip students with a thorough, hands-on knowledge of art practice in varied media including Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Digital Photography, Videography, Installation, Cross, Inter and Digital media, Professional Practice etc., facilitating the creation of meaning through intelligent manipulation of materials and strong conceptual development. We encourage experimentation with transformative and inter-disciplinary approaches to the making, reception and analysis of art within pan-African and international contexts.  

Our programmes focus on creative and critical thinking and our students engage with art theory and art historical discourses, theories and research methodologies to better contextualise and inform their art practice. 

DoVA's highly experienced staff are leading artists, teachers, curators, academics and community project managers. With such skill and experience available to the student body, most graduates have confidently made their way into the diverse visual industries with many forging notable and successful careers as international artists.

... are particularly suited to students who desire to become practising artists. From 2017 the new Bachelor of Arts in Visual Art (BAVA) is offered. This is the first 3-year Bachelor of Arts in Visual / Fine Art degree in South Africa and leads to stand-alone Honours, Masters and Ph.D. qualifications. The Department also offers a BEd (Art and Design) degree as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).

Since becoming the University of Johannesburg in 2005, the Department’s research projects and outputs have grown exponentially while also producing postgraduate students of the highest calibre. In the last few years, six of our Masters graduates have received the Chancellor’s Medal for meritorious postgraduate-level research. This is an unprecedented achievement in the Faculty.  

Prof. Brenda Schmahmann is the SARChI Research Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture which is hosted in the Faculty. This prestigious position serves as a forum for initiatives in research for Masters, Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows.  


DoVA is one of South Africa’s oldest art schools, having begun as the School of Arts and Crafts in 1926. It has been the home of some of the country’s finest artists and scholars. 

The Department counts amongst its alumni: Walter Battiss (1927/1929), Terence McCaw (1930-33), Sidney Goldblatt (1940), Douglas Portway (1940-41); Cecily Sash (1943-48), Dirk Meerkotter (1944), Cecil Skotnes (1946), Claude van Lingen (1949-52), George Boys (1950-53 ), Lionel Abrams (1951-53), Hannes Harrs (1957-1960), Trevor Coleman (1958-1960), Wendy Vincent (1960-61), John Meyer (1960), Geoffrey Armstrong (1963), Paul Stopforth (1964-67), Johan Moolman (1970-73), Willem Boshoff (1970-74/80-84), Willem Strydom (1972-75), Philippa Hobbs (1973-75), Doris Bloom (1974), Clementina van der Walt (1976-77/83-84), Wilma Cruise (1984-85), Peter Mthombeni (1984-87), Günther Herbst (1988-91), Robin Rhode (1995-98), Carol Hofmeyr (1997-2000), Turiya Magadlela (1999-2001), Nicholas Hlobo (1999-2002), Lerato Shadi (2002-05), Lawrence Lemaoana and Mary Sibande (2002-4/2007).

Read exciting news on our recent and past graduates here


The Department of Visual Art congratulates Richard Specs Ndimande (BTech Fine Art 2017) who has been awarded the 2017 Cassirer Welz Award. He follows Nomphumelelo Ngoma (graduated 2013) who won the award in 2016. Specs wins a residency at the Bag Factory with access to their community of artists as well as an exhibition at Everard Read Gallery, in March 2018, at the end of the residency. 
Posted 28 November 2017
The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, USA will hold its second annual African Art Awards dinner on 27 October 2017 where Alice Walton, Ghada Amer and Mary Sibande are honorees. We at DoVA are extremely proud of your achievement Mary!  
Read more about the event here 

Mary Sibande2.jpgMary.jpg 

Posted 13 October 2017


Masters student Kiveshan Thumbiran received 1st place in the recent Excellence in Higher Education 2017 awards, hosted by iStore and ThinkAhead. Jives's entry consisted of course material for the new Digital Media I module of the BAVA 1st year program which he has developed. The judges stated that:  

He has taken a 'Computer Course' for media students, which was really a 'teach about technology' course, and transformed that into a 'New Media Studies' course, in which he uses technology in an innovative way to teach art. He changed the course not only in terms of content, but also in the way that teaching is now done through technology. And, as a by-product, the students are learning how to use different computer applications. In this way he satisfies the demands of the original course, but enriches it significantly by broadening the experience of the students. While technology is used extensively to present the course, the focus is not on technology but on the learning content … which is exactly how technology should be used in education.

DoVA is hugely proud of you Jives and this award acknowledges the great work you have done on developing the 1st year Digital Media curriculum!


Posted 27 October 2017


DoVA's squash star Alexa Pienaar received the top accolade when the UJ Sports Awards Gala function was held at the Johannesburg Country Club on Thursday, 12 October 2017. It was a night to remember for Alexa, who was crowned Sportswoman of the Year and took home the Student-Athlete Award for Excelling in Sport and AcademicsAlexa helped the UJ squash team win their sixth title in a row at the annual University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament, while also shining at an academic level. She represented the USSA team at the World University Championships in Malaysia, where they earned the bronze medal. This year’s SA Open saw her produce one of her best performances when she finished third, while she played at number two for the SA Country Districts team in the A section of the Kaplan Cup interprovincial in July. Alexa also won the Hyundai Award at the interprovincial tournament for the “player who portrays the face of the future of SA squash”. In the student-athlete category, which combines academic marks and sporting achievement, Alexa averaged 74% towards her NDip. Fine Art. The entire Department congratulates you on this fantastic achievement, Alexa!
Read more here
Alexa Pienaar 1 LR.JPGPic 2 Alexa Pienaar 2 LR.JPG

Posted 19 October 2017


Departmental Secretary

Elda Majola
Tel: 011 5591117