MA Visual Arts

Description of the programme

The MA in Visual Arts (MAVA) programme offers an opportunity for specialised postgraduate research in studio production and theory within the broader areas of Visual Communication Design, Illustration, Jewellery Design and Fine Art. The programme promotes the development of each student’s particular interests, skills and ideas. Students are expected to conduct independent practical and theoretical research of an advanced, in-depth standard that reflects an awareness of a contemporary South African context. Research that is practice-based in its methodology, thus research wherein the relationship between practice and theory is dialogical and interrelated, not only in the research process, but also in the final presentation of the research project, is encouraged.

Structure of the programme

Research in the MAVA programme is comprised of the following two integrated parts that fall under one module, Thesis (Visual Arts):

  • The production of a comprehensive body of practical work, and
  • A written thesis.

In the research there is an ongoing interplay between theory and practice, wherein the one mutually informs and enriches the other. Students are guided through the first part of the programme with lectures on research methodologies, practice-led research, and professional practice. Depending on each individual research project, students are encouraged to interrogate and shape this relationship between theory and practice both in their research process as well as in the way that the research manifests itself in the final presentation of the project for examination. Each student will be guided through this process by a supervisor who has knowledge of his/her field of enquiry. Ultimately a single mark will be awarded for the research project in its entirety, comprising of both the practical and theoretical components.

  • Theory seminars: A series of theoretical seminars throughout the year provides students the opportunity to present their theoretical research in a formal manner to a group of academic staff, fellow students and other professionals in order to gain in-depth feedback on their progress. Each MAVA and MA in Visual Studies (MAVS) student will have one opportunity throughout the course of the year to present his/her work.
  • Studio/practical seminars: These are scheduled at regular intervals throughout the year. These seminars provide the opportunity for students to present new studio work and developing ideas to a group of academic staff and fellow students in order to receive varied input on their progress. Students can present their work more than once throughout the course of the year.
  • Practical reviews: The practical reviews take the form of three group exhibitions of one week each in the GUS gallery in Stellenbosch during August/September. Students are divided into three groups, and each group is expected to curate and present their practical research and work to the public. Each group is encouraged to find points of connection between group members’ praxes and use these to construct a curatorial framework for their exhibition. During each exhibition there is a formal revision session during which each student presents his/her work and the floor is opened for discussion to the larger group comprising of MAVA and MAVS students and staff.

Future career paths

The MAVA programme creates the opportunity for future work in academia, education, public intellectual engagement, work as a professional artist and/or designer, or a combination of all these.

For more information

Ledelle Moe | Coordinator: MAVA | +27 21 808 3594