From Brigham to Bamberger to Olive Osmond, the exhibit pays tribute to the 60 people who ‘shaped Utah’

Khosrow Semnani is an Iranian immigrant whose life in Utah embodies the American dream.

The self-made millionaire Almost penniless when he arrived in the Beehive State in 1968, and by doing some leisure work while attending university courses, he was able to earn a Westminster College degree in science. physics. He went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Utah in engineering administration, after which he founded hazardous waste disposal companies, including Envirocare (now EnergySolutions), which were extremely successful.

After selling that business, Semnani began using his fortune to provide humanitarian services and promote freedom to the people of Iran, which he had not visited since 1975.

Over the course of the decades, the philanthropist has developed a great love for the United States and its endless possibilities.

He had visited California a few years ago and stopped at an artist’s studio, which had an exhibition of photographs titled: “The People Who Shaped America.” Semnani was moved by the faces of some of the people who influenced his adoptive country, and it made him think of all the Utahns who have shaped his adoptive nation.

This week Semnani said: “It would be great for the kids growing up here to get to know these people. “It would also be great for tourists who come here to learn more about Utah and all the different people who made it.”

So the industrialist asked Michael De Groote, Semnani’s director of communications, to put together a list of potential names and biographical details for an installation called “They Shaped Utah.” It is displayed on the second floor of the historic Trolley Square shopping mall owned by Semnaniin December.

Each honoree is described with “a new illustration colored with artificial intelligence,” De Groote said in a press release. “The illustrations come with a brief biographical summary along with a QR code that helps provide more information about each person.”

De Groote said in an interview, assembling a team of 60 shaders was a complex task.

Of course, it will include a lot of Mormon historical figures like Brigham Youngsecond president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Wilford Woodruffthe fourth president, who introduced the “Declaration,” which would mark the beginning of the end of participatory polygamy of the faith. Susa Young GatesDaughter of Young, leader among Latter-day Saint women, and Jane Manning Jamesa free African-American Mormon who arrived west in 1847, were all honorees.

And a historical figure of the Latter-day Saint – Orrin Porter Rockwell Shooting — undeniably Utah has shaped it in some ways, says De Groote, but is “controversial.”

Famous and not famous

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Khosrow Semnani presents “They Shaped Utah,” an exhibit about 60 prominent or underrated Utahns throughout history at Trolley Square, Wednesday, Aug. February 2, 2022.

Semnani, a Muslim, insisted on recommending leaders of other faiths, such as Silvestre de Escalantea Franciscan explorer, and Father Lawrence ScanlanUtah’s first Catholic bishop.

Then there are Simon Bambergerfourth governor of the state and the only Jewish state in the state.

Many of the honorees date back to the 19th century, including Wakarafrontman of the Utah band Timpanogo, while others died much more recently – like the former owner of Jazz Larry Miller, Old government Olene Walkerand Creative entrepreneur Clayton Christensen.

Viewers will also find athletes like Wataru “Wat” Misakawho led the University of Utah to win the national basketball title and became the NBA’s first black player.

Organizers also sought gender balance – but since so many of the original shapers were male, they had to look a little wider at women.

On top of that, they weigh in between the famous and the not-so-famous, working to add some surprises and some lesser-known characters.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) new exhibit “They Shaped Utah” presents 60 prominent or underrated Utahns from throughout history at Trolley Square, Wednesday, February 2, 2022. .

William Showellan express horseman, whose name is on the list, and so on Osmond olivesmother of the famous performing group, who started singing to the boys to raise money for hearing aids for her two eldest children.

“We hope people will find familiar characters – and some surprises,” De Groote said, “and that they will learn a lot.”

At the exhibition’s opening, Lieutenant Colonel Deidre Henderson praised it for its many women and underrepresented communities.

“I have always been a history student and I love learning about people – especially about people who have been written down or never written into our stories,” she said at the time. “However, these are all people who have contributed greatly to the making of our legacy in important, but often forgotten, ways.”

Why are “some stories told and others buried? What happens when we forget the parts of the past that helped make us who we are today? ‘ asked Henderson. “The answer is not difficult: When we forget where we come from, we cannot understand exactly where we are and we are ill-equipped to know where we should go.”

That’s why, she said, this permanent exhibition is so valuable.

‘Tell their stories’

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) A new exhibit, “They Shaped Utah,” showcases 60 prominent or underrated Utahns from throughout history at Trolley Square, Wednesday, Feb. February 2022.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, also present at the exhibition’s opening, pointed out how the portraits of her predecessors hanging on the third floor of City Hall “do not fully reflect the calendar.” true history of Utah.”

The state’s past and present are much more diverse than that, Mendenhall said. “The state has always been shaped by diversity. Tell their stories.”

The Trolley Square exhibit would be a welcome addition to the painted mural on the east side of the Dinwoody Building featuring several 280 women from Utah’s past and present. “History is something that never ends. It is never stable. It was never fully written,” says Henderson. “There are always perspectives to explore and listen to.”

She commended Semnani for working “to uncover the stories of people who sat at the table and were heard,” she said. “And even more importantly, to highlight those who have not had a voice or a seat at the table and have never been heard.”

Semnani’s team is currently accepting proposals to add 40 Utahns to the exhibit.

“I owe this status a lot,” says Semnani. “I want other people to be proud of it – like I am.” From Brigham to Bamberger to Olive Osmond, the exhibit pays tribute to the 60 people who ‘shaped Utah’

Joel McCord

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