Wizdom vs. Slick:
a journey into madness, a journal into sadness

Summary of Introduction:

In the Fall of 1997, I began my first semester teaching Graphic Design classes at Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan. I had moved my family halfway around the world, torn away from their tropical home in Fiji, so that I could take on a job in another place where people seemed to be looking for a leg up on the economic development ladder. Among them was a young and eager student named Alex who, while eager to learn, was torn apart by other demands of youthful hubris.

...In January 2001 I announced that I had decided to take a group of students back to Fiji on an overseas study tour with some planned activities related to art and building cross-cultural understanding...

Alex was the first to sign up for the trip, complete with his passport and first installment. But somewhere over the next few months, Alex started his journey into madness, reaching a full psychotic breakdown in the midst of his travels.

The artwork that Alex created in 2001 in his graffiti diary sketchbook is included here. But with that artwork are voices - his own, his teacher/mentor, and Zero-MSC, a fellow graffiti artist who adds perspective to the story about a loose familial group where some survive and go on with their lives trying to find ways to contribute to their community. Others, like Alex, are consumed by the madness that drove them there.

The wider community holds graffiti art and artists in complete disdain. But through the story and voices shared here, it is my aim to offer a different perspective of the role that graffiti plays as the voice of an alienated community that refuses to accept being ignored by the blind eye of society. They want respect. They want attention. They want you to know that they exist. They want to feel valued as human beings.

These simple wishes that we all share, are mostly elusive to them.

Some, like Zero-MSC, survive and even are driven to succeed in fringe economies and business. And some, like Alex, find that the elusiveness of human value can prove fatal.