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Marijana Grisnik

Photograph of Marijana Grisnik, 1989

Artist, Born: 1936, Strawberry Hill, Kansas City, KS.  Married: Ed Grisnik.

The area known as Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, Kansas, lies on the bluffs overlooking the place where the Kansas and Missouri rivers merge. Legend says its name comes from the wild strawberries that once grew there. The area is most closely identified with the Slavics, especially the Croatians, who began settling the area in the late 19th century. Many Yugoslavs, in particular those from Croatia, came to Kansas City to seek a more prosperous life. As was the case in many ethnic communities, life in Strawberry Hill at first resembled village life in the old country. Although many changes took place in Strawberry Hill over the years, it remains a strong ethnic community and a center for Croatian-Americans throughout the Kansas City area.

Marijana Grisnik is a woman with strong ties both to Strawberry Hill and the ethnic heritage of its people. All four of her grandparents immigrated to Kansas City from Croatia. Born on Strawberry Hill in 1936 in the same house as her mother, Marijana was raised within the traditions of the Strawberry Hill community. According to Marijana, "I was very fortunate in that my mother shared me with the people on the Hill. They all seemed to have a hand in raising me." As a child Marijana loved to sketch the sights of Strawberry Hill. It was, however, after the birth of her third child that she began painting her memories of growing up on Strawberry Hill. Through her canvases this self-taught artist has become the storyteller of this ethnic community.

Painting by Marijana Grisnik

Her paintings depict such activities as making Kobasica (sausage), gathering grain on the railroad tracks, a Croatian wedding, and Good Friday at St. John's Church. She paints from memory using the songs, the food, the arts, and the stories, which circulate among the members of the Croatian community for inspiration. She views her paintings as "giving back to the Hill what the Hill gave to me."


View more of Marijana's paintings on the Cool Things page and in the online exhibit, Marijana: My People's Painter.

Entry: Grisnik, Marijana

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: December 2004

Date Modified: March 2011

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.