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n the 1980s, the Solidarność/Solidarity movement in Poland became one of Europe’s most notable social movements and played a significant role in ending communist rule in Poland. As a consequence of participating in this movement, many individuals experienced terrible repression, including imprisonment by the state. Some of these individuals moved to Minnesota as refugees. The first phase of the project, "Faces of Solidarity," sheds light on the experiences of Solidarność/Solidarity activists turned political prisoners, chronicling their transition to a life free from political repression, the role of Minnesota's culture in facilitating their integration, and the impact of their social activism.

The Faces of Solidarity exhibition made its debut at the Minnesota State Capitol on December 3, 2021, to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1981 martial law in Poland. It subsequently traveled to the University of St. Thomas (February 17, 2022) and the East Side Freedom Library as part of the Solidarity Street Gallery (September 9, 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 this phase project.

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.

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