As far back as the 1940s, my parents were active in the civil rights movement in Richmond, Virginia, and they bred a social and political awareness into my siblings and me. My father even had an FBI file from that time, primarily for raising money for Israel. The FBI seemed to be watching his whole family, particularly my grandfather who was a prominent bacteriologist and also quite active in civil rights. In the file, the Straus family is characterized as “liberal Jews who advocate such things as free speech, open forum discussion, and additional opportunities for colored people.” During my teenage years in Miami, my whole immediate family protested the Vietnam War and marched in front of Nixon’s “winter White House” compound down the street from where we lived on Key Biscayne. My mother loved Caesar Chavez and his movement to unionize migrant farm workers. We boycotted grapes, and I don’t think I had iceberg lettuce until I went away to college. This social consciousness along with the adventure of a childhood immersed in exploring the swamps, woods, waters, and biology of South Florida, where I witnessed profound changes in the environment in a short period of time, have been the most important experiences affecting my work as an artist.
- Adam Straus, 2016