Dorsky Museum and Department of Music partner on program connecting artwork of Jan Sawka and music by Fryderyk Chopin

Virtual project connects two artists across time, and piano players across the globe

Poster by Jan Sawka for the International Chopin & Friends Festival

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz and the Department of Music are excited to announce a new virtual project inspired by composer Fryderyk Chopin and visual artist Jan Sawka, two Polish émigrés who both considered themes of memory and exile in their work.

As part of the “Chopin and Sawka” project, the College is inviting pianists to submit videos of their own explorations of Chopin’s music and Sawka’s artworks.

Complete instructions for submitting your video can be found at this link.

See here for examples of videos already featured in this project.

About “Chopin and Sawka”
Though Sawka and Chopin worked in different mediums nearly 100 years apart, their creative output has in common certain resonances of their homeland: nostalgia for Poland’s culture, deep knowledge of the struggles and triumphs of its history, and a shared experience of having left home, never to return.

This project was originally planned as an in-person event at the Dorsky Museum, featuring New Paltz piano students performing works by Chopin against the backdrop of the exhibition, “Jan Sawka: The Place of Memory (The Memory of Place).”

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers Zachary Bowman, education manager at The Dorsky, and Alex Peh, assistant professor of music, sought another way to engage pianists with the themes of exile, so prevalent in both Chopin’s and Sawka’s work, that were taking on new meaning at a time of social isolation.

They resolved to invite musicians to consider Sawka’s artwork through the lens of Chopin’s music and vice versa, while also sharing a bit about their own life experiences. The project already includes multiple performance videos, as well as some conversations between exhibition curators and a presentation by renowned Polish pianist Łukasz Krupiński.

The Dorsky Museum and Department of Music hope to see “Chopin and Sawka” continue to grow with submissions from members of our campus community and from artists and musicians from around the world.

This project would not have been possible without the generous support of The Polish Cultural Institute in New York. Special thanks to David Mosca, John Stimmel and Nathaniel Lewis for their assistance in producing the videos, and to the piano teachers who involved their students: Ruthanne Schempf, Maria Peterson, Valentina Shatalova, Ada Margoshes, Akiko Sasaki and Jean MacDonald.

About The Dorsky Museum
Through its collections, exhibitions and public programs, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art supports and enriches the academic programs at the College and serves as a center for Hudson Valley arts and culture. With more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space distributed over six galleries, The Dorsky Museum is one of the largest museums in the SUNY system. Since its official dedication in 2001, The Dorsky has presented more than 100 exhibitions, including commissions, collection-based projects, and in-depth studies of contemporary artists including Robert Morris, Alice Neel, Judy Pfaff, Carolee Schneemann and Ushio Shinohara.

Museum Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays, holidays and intersessions.

For more information about The Dorsky Museum and its programs, visit or call (845) 257-3844.