Dr Janine Allen Spies

Artist, Image philosopher and Senior Lecturer in Fine Arts (UFS) 


  • BA Fine Arts (1992)
  • MA Fine Arts (1995)
  • PhD Fine Arts (2017)

Dr Janine Allen-Spies obtained her BA (1992), MA (1995), and PhD (2017) degrees in Fine Arts at the University of the Free State. She works as an artist, image philosopher, and senior lecturer in Fine Arts at the UFS.

As a visual artist, Dr Allen-Spies has excelled in the professional arts arena and in the academic art sphere. Her pioneering career makes her one of the most sought-after artist-academics. 

She has won several competitions and is the first artist in the country to be selected for the prestigious international UNESCO-Aschberg Residencies for Artists Programme, of which only two artists from the African continent (in all categories including drama, dance, and theatre arts) were elected. Other notable awards include the ABSA Visual Arts Award at the International Free State Arts Festival and an Audience Award at the esteemed Spier Contemporary Biennale, Cape Town (2010). Her art has been selected for several international and national group exhibitions and she was a finalist in many prestigious South African art competitions. 

Allen’s academic career is a witness to her pioneering spirit and reputable leadership. She was the first scholar to complete a practice-based MA (including a full dissertation) and a PhD in Fine Arts at the UFS. This PhD brought great honour to the university at both national and international level, culminating into the exhibition: The Visionary Brusher Game (2017), which received the ABSA Visual Arts Award. 

Dr Allen-Spies has paved the way for many young artists in the Free State arts community. The rather small arts community has been consolidated through a strong academically trained group of artists that contribute to the national art world. Some of the notable artists that studied under her include Pauline Gütter, Angela de Jesus, Landi Raubenheimer, Dot Vermeulen, Elrie Joubert, and Louis Krüger. She has supervised many postgraduate students who completed their degrees with great accolade, as well as many other BAFA art students who immediately entered the arts sector and have become notable in their careers. She thus paved the way for postgraduate art studies at the UFS. 

Allen’s work is held in prestigious collections, such as the Luciana Benneton Collection (Venice Biennale), Modern Art Projects, etc. She initiated many projects that had a cascading effect on the Free State art world. In the Artists-in-Schools research project, she brought different artists from different communities together to work in schools in deep-rural and struggling communities. Many of the artists in the project, and also those who have mastered art in autodidactic ways, have received funding, were selected or had won competitions in their own projects after they took part in this project. In the interdisciplinary projects, for example, the Eureka project and the BioArt project, as well as through her thesis and artwork, she has pioneered ways to critically participate and add to the discourse of interdisciplinary studies at the UFS.

With such an impressive background, it goes without saying that Janine’s hobbies include the collection of artworks.

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