Reilly Jensen is an archaeologist, researcher, and illustrator, who is currently studying in the Community-Based Arts Education Graduate Program at the University of Utah. Having grown up in southern Utah, she has a passion for preserving heritage and cultural landscapes, as well as the exploration of stories that haven’t been historically preserved or recorded.
Jensen’s project is a collaborative effort with the Sema Hadithi Foundation (a non-profit organization dedicated to researching and sharing stories of Black history in Utah). Known as The Buffalo Soldiers research group, Jensen works with other artists, historians, and archaeologists to investigate archaeological records and other historical accounts to piece together the stories and experiences from these soldiers in the 1880’s in the newly-formed state of Utah. The project is a graphic novel used to share their research in hopes that it raises questions about Utah’s intersectional history.
The future of the project is in the hands of the board of directors at the Sema Hadithi Foundation. “I’ve pushed for this work to be a call-to-action for my colleagues working in heritage, preservation, and history in Utah, but also an invitation to others who can share their past and help create and document their own histories and experiences,” Jensen said. Her ultimate hope is that the foundation successfully brings attention to the untold intersectional histories of Utah.
Here is a link to the foundation’s website, with more information about a project and a chance to donate to its cause: semahadithi.org/buffalo-soldiers-graphic-novel.
Find this article and a lot more in the 2022 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.