Born: New Orleans, 1940 Served in Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps 1966-68
From the Artist:
"Only God and art combined can change lives of people, and those are the only two things I believe in."
About the Artist: (From "Straight at the Heart: Charles Smith's African-American Heritage Museum")
As with so many self-taught artists nothing in Smith's early life predicted his creative inclination...His father died when Smith was only fourteen. Shortly after, he moved with his mother and two sisters to the Chicago area where he has lived for most of his adult life...His experiences in Vietnam left a permanent impression on him. Something as simple as a long, hard rain now reminds him of enduring combat during the monsoon season in Vietnam. But, it's not just the weather that he recalls. It is also the anger and hatred he felt in combat, an anger and hatred he has struggled with ever since.
When Smith is asked what moved him to express his frustrations and anger through art, he states "divine intervention." Smith says "God moves me. He shows me how to do it, where to put it and how to construct it." Smith has no formal art training. He uses materials that are not typical to the fine arts: rocks, cement, twigs, house paint. Smith's art offered him a way to rid himself of the anger he was feeling.