Mexican diplomat Jorge Alberto Lozoya has been selected to receive the 2019 Richard Brettell Award in the Arts at The University of Texas at Dallas. The award includes a $150,000 prize and provides an opportunity for the campus community to meet and talk with the ambassador during a three-day residency.
Established in 2016 with a gift from Margaret McDermott, the Brettell Award — one of the richest art prizes in the world — recognizes the lifelong work of individuals working in visual arts, music, literature, performance or architecture/design. Presented every two years, the first award was given to famed landscape architect Peter Walker, who designed the University’s campus enhancement project.
Dr. Richard Brettell, founding director of UT Dallas’ Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and in whose honor the award was established, said he was convinced that Lozoya was the best choice for this year’s award when he attended a meeting in Puebla, Mexico, for the International Museum of the Baroque — a project conceived and led by Lozoya.
“This museum — initiated without a permanent collection but with the very latest in museum technology, opening on time and on budget with money from the state of Puebla and private sources — is a true miracle,” said Brettell, the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies and the Edith O’Donnell Distinguished University Chair.
Lozoya has broad experience in international cooperation and cultural affairs. He has been associated with some of the top Mexican and international academic institutions, with a special interest in Asian civilizations and prospective studies, and international negotiations.
“Ambassador Lozoya has made the most persistent and diverse use of culture to cross boundaries that are, in all cases, made by humans and are not ‘natural,’” Brettell said.
A Latin American pioneer on Asian affairs, Lozoya has introduced numerous Mexicans and international scholars to the study of Chinese, Japanese and Indian civilizations at The College of Mexico AC, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the Ibero-American University and the Matías Romero Institute, among other prestigious institutions.
Lozoya’s diplomatic career began in 1969 when he was appointed the Honorary Consul of Mexico in Taipei, while a student at National Taiwan University. He established the Mexican Consulate in Seville, Spain, on the occasion of the 1992 World Expo and served as ambassador to Israel, representative to the Palestinian government and ambassador to Malaysia.
In 2017 he was appointed the founding director of the International Museum of the Baroque, a position he held until his retirement in May.
“The award to Ambassador Lozoya is made at a time of strained political and social relationships with his native Mexico and is designed to recognize the range and depth of culture in that great nation, which is older than ours,” Brettell said. “I hope that through this simple recognition of cross-border cultural diplomacy, we can begin to repair the rifts and misunderstandings that have come between our two nations.”
Amy Lewis Hofland, director of the Crow Museum of Asian Art of The University of Texas at Dallas, collaborated with Lozoya on the Baroque Museum project and said the decision to honor him was a brilliant one.
“I think the world needs to hear his voice right now,” she said. “He’s very much a scholar who cares about the future and the past. And I think that’s something that students should be exposed to.”
Lozoya called the Brettell Award recognition “undeserved” but said his long involvement in cultural and international affairs was for a purpose.
“As a diplomat, I was highly concerned with the advancement of global efforts to diminish tension and violence through a better understanding of foreign social interests. Being a historian, I soon learned that getting to know the goals of your neighbors is not a simple matter,” he said. “If you do not work on mutual understanding, conflict is the natural result. I insist on the need to labor on cooperation; art and culture are important tools in the achievement of this purpose.”