The Bouwhuis Library welcomed an enthusiastic group of 28 cultural heritage tourists to Canisius on Saturday, September 9, 2023. Through collaboration with Explore Buffalo, the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo and Buffalo Architecture & History, we were featured in a city-wide tour of the murals of Józef Sławiński (1905-1983). Canisius’ mural was donated by James Lawicki ’88 and installed on the library’s main floor during fall 2021.
Sławiński, a Polish immigrant to Buffalo, created large murals using a technique known as sgriffito. He used multiple layers of concrete alternating those with layers of different colored paint. Then, he scratched through to lower surfaces to reveal colors that he formed into shapes or images.
Robert J. Fronckowiak, First VP. and Board Member of the American Council for Polish Culture spoke about Sławiński’s work and legacy sharing the cultural heritage of Poland, and how the Canisius’ mural, created in Buffalo, informed his passion. The artwork depicts Polish individuals whose contributions to the arts and sciences are widely celebrated throughout the world: Frederic Chopin, Nicholas Copernicus, Marie Skłodowska Curie, and Adam Mickiewicz. Those figures center on an image of the University of Krakow, or Jagiellonian University, established in 1364.
Canisius’ Archives and Special Collections prepared an exhibit of newspaper clippings from the Collection of the Permanent Chair of Polish Culture. One article illustrated and described Sławiński at work; another, with photo, described a 1977 donation to Canisius of a rare edition, Polish-language family bible.
University archivist and special collections librarian, Kathleen DeLaney ’73 showcased the Bible, noted its history, and explained how use by the family gave clues to its current condition. The Bible, originally printed in 1599, was reprinted only twice from the original Latin Vulgate. Our edition, published in 1911, is from the second reprinting.
Explore Buffalo volunteer tour guide, Chuck LaChiusa ’63, assisted with the development of the Sławiński program. His website Buffalo Architecture and History is a well-researched guide to the historic built environment in Buffalo and Western New York. Visit him at BufffaloAH.com.
Submitted by: Kathleen DeLaney, University Archivist and Special Collections Librarian