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Painting entitled "Marijana's Backyard," 1974
Marijana's Backyard, by Marijana Grisnik

Community Life in Strawberry Hill

This Croatian neighborhood of Kansas City is documented through a catalog of paintings by local artist Marijana Grisnik entitled Images of Strawberry Hill. The catalog was published by the Kansas State Historical Society to complement a traveling exhibition of the same name.

Marijana Grisnk was born in 1936 in an area of Kansas City, Kansas, known as Strawberry Hill. This area lies on the bluffs overlooking the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. Legend has it that the name comes from wild strawberries that once grew there. The area is most closely defined with the South Slavic immigrants, especially the Croatians, who came in the late nineteenth century to seek greater opportunity and prosperity. As was the case for many ethnic communities, life in Strawberry Hill at first resembled life in the old country. Although many changes have occurred, it remains a strong ethnic enclave and a center for Croatian-Americans throughout the Kansas City area.

Marijana was raised within the ethnic traditions of the community and, even as a child, loved to sketch sights on the Hill. It was not until the birth of her third child, however, that she began to paint her memories of growing up there. The images she created are of her youth, when the area was less threatened by the world that surrounds it. For inspiration, she uses the customs, songs, foods, arts and stories that circulate among members of the community.

Originally submitted by: Dennis Moore, Representative (3rd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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