Faces of Solidarity - Polish Refugees in Minnesota is a photographic tribute to Polish Solidarity political activists that settled in Minnesota. This art exhibition launched in December 2021, marking Poland's 40th anniversary of martial law.
Solidarity was the most prominent freedom movement in the Eastern Bloc during the 1980s. With the support of almost 10 million members, it played a significant role in ending communist rule in Poland. After martial law was imposed in December 1981, many activists experienced state repression and imprisonment. Some of these individuals and their families fled Poland and settled in the United States.
Faces of Solidarity is a part of the Kalejdoskop Polski MN project. This exhibit is a photographic tribute to Polish Solidarnosc activists who settled in Minnesota. Ten striking portraits of Polish- Minnesotans were on display at the East Side Freedom Library from September 9- October 1, 2022.
This exhibition was displayed in the Minnesota State Capitol between December 3 and January 7th, 2022. A month later, it was displayed at the Iversen Center of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul from February 14 - March 14, 2022. The on-campus sponsors of the event were the Office of Mission, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Theology, and Department of History. The photos from the opening ceremony are available on our blog. The exhibition travelled to the East Side Freedom Library August-September 2022.
“Our project aims to increase the visibility of Polish immigrants and Polish-American stories in Minnesota. We seek to connect these individuals’ journeys and the larger community-building process after a deep struggle. Our goal was to capture histories that allow audiences to relate empathically with different generations of Polish immigrants and examine their own stories of connection to immigration history. The stories of Solidarnosc activists, in particular, have been largely absent in the popular narrative, partly because these individuals have rarely spoken publicly about their experiences during that time.” - Dr. Katarzyna Litak, President of MPMS.
The Kalejdoskop project combines oral history interviews with documentary photography. Dr. Katarzyna Litak is the project manager, exhibitions curator, and graphic designer. She conducted oral history interviews for the project.
Documentary photographer Grzegorz Litynski was contracted for the visual part of the project. www.litynski.com
The project has received grant support from the Minnesota Historical Society, Metro Regional Arts Council, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. We also have partnered with the Landmark Center, Ramsey County Historical Society, East Side Freedom Library, Roseville Public Library, and the University of St. Thomas and Kowalski's Market.