Asia Society Texas Center presents "Joss: Works by Joseph Havel" opening day

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Asia Society Texas Center presents Joss
Joseph Havel, Joss, 2020, Bronze with patina Photo courtesy of Joseph Havel

Asia Society Texas Center will present "Joss," highlighting the work of Houston- and San Francisco-based artist, Joseph Havel. With objects in the collections of local institutions such as the Menil Collection and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Havel is renowned for his work with bronze as a medium. He has created a series of new sculptures in response to the ancient bronze vessels currently featured in ASTC’s "Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes," on special loan from the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Havel first encountered the Chinese bronzes featured in "Eternal Offerings" as a college student at the University of Minnesota. The memory of those visits to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and learning about the intricate use of bronze exhibited in these ancient pieces, made an enduring impact on Havel and provided inspiration for the creation of his newest sculptures centered on forms of joss paper.

Also known as spirit money, joss paper is burned as an offering to ancestors and transformed into smoke that carries its value into the spirit world. In the same manner the ancient bronzes showcased in "Eternal Offerings" were used to extend food and wine to the dead, contemporary joss paper - available in a variety of shapes to replicate everything from daily necessities such as money, clothing and food, to more modern luxury items like jewelry, phones, and flat screen TVs - provides a connection between generations.

Havel’s sculptures are constructed using the paper forms of household goods and clothing, focusing on joss’s unique function and physicality to determine the compositions, then casting them in bronze. The joss is burnt out in the casting process, transformed from delicate paper into a more lasting construction that brings forward questions of ephemerality and permanence, consumption and preservation.

In celebration of the opening of the exhibition, ASTC will present a web-based artist talk and studio tour with the artist on August 29 at 2 pm. Havel will discuss his process and technical approaches to the bronze, with particular attention to the similarities and differences between his methods and those embodied in the ancient ritual vessels in the concurrent exhibition on view, "Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes."

The exhibition will remain on display through November 8.

Event Details



Asia Society Texas Center
1370 Southmore Blvd.
Houston, TX 77004


Ticket Info

Admission is free.