806 – Vietnam Vet Charles Smith shows the way

Potter Charles Smith, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Potter Charles Smith creates finely detailed, widely admired works of art in his Mobile studio, but he says even his crude early creations filled him with the sense that “I made this.” (Mark Sandlin/Alabama NewsCenter

One of the more noble pursuits of this podcast is the acclamation of the Vietnam Veteran Generation as a whole and on occasion, its individual members. In this episode Vietnam Vet Charles Smith will be featured. He overcame PTSD to become a nationally known pottery artist. Recently there was a story about him and his art in The Alabama NewsCenter titled: Charles Smith’s journey from angry Vietnam vet to accomplished artist to Alabama Maker that was submitted by Tommy Black. On this podcast episode that story will be shared with listeners.

Charles Smith is a native of Mobile, Alabama. He answered the call of duty and served his country in Vietnam. He had already decided he wanted to be a school teacher, so when he returned to Mobile in 1971 he immediately enrolled at Jackson State University up in Jackson, Mississippi. Unbeknownst to Charles he was suffering from the then undiagnosed PTSD. The VA did not recognize or name the condition until 1980 so he was sort of wandering around in the darkness of wonderment as to why he could not relate to other students. Luckily for Charles he found a way out of his PTSD nightmare.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in art education and studied ceramics. He was fortunate in that he was able to study with famed potter Marcus Douyon. Charles spent many hours in the ceramics studio perfecting his craft and in the process he began to work out his issues with PTSD.

After graduation and spending a little time in graduate school, he decided to return home to Mobile. Along with him he brought with him a growing interest in his new found ceramics artistry. Initially he supported himself with a job in the ship yards. Not long after a piece of his art was displayed in The Mobile Museum of Art, he began to garner notice has since gained a reputation as one of the South’s most accomplished potters.

CLICK HERE for Charles’ website to see more of his pottery designs.

Charles Smith is a wonderful representative of the great Vietnam Veteran Generation and we here at the podcast thank him for his contributions and wish him the best.

Charles Smith, at work, mack payne, vietnam veteran news

Charles Smith, at work in his Mobile studio, says pottery saved him from being consumed by the feelings he brought back from the Vietnam War. (Mark Sandlin/Alabama NewsCenter)

Charles Smith’s pots, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Charles Smith’s pots have been exhibited in the Smithsonian and other prestigious museums across the country. (Mark Sandlin/Alabama NewsCenter)

A sample of Charles Smith's artistry, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

A sample of Charles Smith’s artistry


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *