Xavier Magazine

Faculty Spotlight: Jonathan Gibson, Associate Professor, Art

Historically, Cincinnati’s artistic temperament usually hovers between a fetching bit of Rookwood pottery and a Charlie Harper print. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But if you were to wander into the Phyllis Weston Gallery in O’Bryonville, you’d find the art on the wall represents a completely different type of art experience, especially since this work encourages your participation—as in purchasing it. Or at least a part of it.

Welcome to Art of Parts 2.0 and its creator and curator, Jonathan Gibson, on the faculty in Xavier’s art department. “This is a crowd-sourced art project where you can own a percentage of a work of art and belong to a community of shareholders.”

That’s right. Buy a share, and Gibson will cut you off a piece of original art. Lest you think this is a destructive act, usually frowned upon when it comes to art, in this case, it’s actually essential to the concept of the piece. “My visual intention is to smash figuration and abstraction together. This is kind of the aftermath,” he says.

And you can certainly see bits of dancers amid the geometric forms. It’s the idea of assembling, taking stuff apart and putting it back together that intrigues Gibson, along with the concept of “ownership.” Think of this as an artistic timeshare—or Ebay for art.

“Have you ever wanted to buy art but couldn’t afford it? Now you can name your price,” he says.

Here’s how it works. You buy what it’s worth to you. Minimum bid is $25. “The work’s not complete until the shareholders affect the final composition. Then I cut it up!” he explains.

The final sale, while not setting the art world on fire, totaled six buyers for a total of $500—but, Gibson says, well worth the experience.

“The auction was the first time I had a live viewing of the distribution. As soon as people purchased a part, they could see their part on the artwork itself. The cutting of the work at the end of the night was by far the most visceral and engaging, with cringing, gasps and excitement as it was cut up.”   

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