Art from Season Three

For the art this season, we wanted to draw a strong connection to Cleveland. We cover the criminal justice system, but it’s the police stations, apartment buildings, parks, bars, and neighborhood street corners that are the settings for most of the stories. We worked with Moth Studio, an award-winning animation team in London, to recreate locations from each episode.

Cleveland has a number of beautiful murals and street art. Inspired by that art as well as murals in other cities, we commissioned six artists to create an illustration for each episode that we could then superimpose onto each setting. Read more about each animation and the illustrators below. 

Curious how these animations came together? We wrote about that, too.

— Whitney Dangerfield, Digital Editor

Animation Gallery

Season Three: Episode 01 A Bar Fight Walks into the Justice Center

So much of the action in this episode takes place at this corner bar in Cleveland. We decided to change the name on the sign to protect all involved and remove a few awnings for the illustration, but Moth Studio painstakingly replicated the bar, sweeping past the front door to the side of the building. Melody Newcomb then read the script for the episode and drew this mural depicting a woman in two worlds, a bar and a court. Moth Studio then added it to the animation. Melody is an illustrator based in New York City. Her clients include The New York Times, Simon & Schuster, Scientific American, and many others.

Moth Studio has earned multiple British Academy of Film and Television Arts nominations and a D&AD Pencil, and they’ve done films and shorts for such versatile outlets as the World Wildlife Fund, Facebook, Kiehl’s, and The New York Times.

Season Three: Episode 02 You’ve Got Some Gauls

We always knew we would depict the Justice Center this season. The heart of the criminal justice system in Cuyahoga County, it takes up a whole city block downtown and holds the city and county courts, the jail, prosecutors’ offices, and the police headquarters. Moth Studio had a big task on their hands with this rendering; the main tower is 26 stories high.

We worked with the illustrator Adam Maida to create a gigantic mural to superimpose on Moth Studio’s animation of the building. Adam creates work for films, editorial outlets, and packaging design. His work has appeared in many places including The New Yorker, Wired, PBS, The Intercept, and our very own This American Life.

Season Three: Episode 03 Misdemeanor, Meet Mr. Lawsuit

For the animations this season, we focus a lot of our attention outside, on the streets and buildings of Cleveland. For this episode we decided to go inside. Moth Studio used descriptions of the hallway of Erimius’s apartment complex to create this animation, including details like the carpet, the lighting, and the security camera.

We asked Darius Steward, an artist born and raised in East Cleveland, to draw the illustration that Moth Studio added to the animation. In this drawing of the children, he wanted to show the push-pull feeling he had reading the script. We have all admired Darius's murals around Cleveland. There are a handful up now — one on Detroit Road, another on Euclid Avenue, and a third is part of a group exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. He has also shown his work at FORUM Artspace, Kent State, Tregoning & Company, William Busta Gallery, and the Cleveland Clinic. Later this year, Darius will show at FRONT International and the CAN Triennial. A former high school teacher, he now works at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Season Three: Episode 04 A Bird in Jail Is Worth Two on the Street

When Aavielle Wakefield was killed, the whole city took notice, but the impact of her death was particularly felt in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood where the shooting took place. Moth Studio looked at several different angles of the area, and then created this animation moving from one side of the street to the other.

We wanted both the animation and the illustration to focus on the idea of protection — protecting the city, protecting youth, protecting the streets, and protecting each other. We commissioned Jess X. Snow to draw the illustration that is superimposed on this apartment building. A multidisciplinary artist, Jess works on large-scale murals, films, and virtual reality projects. Her murals have appeared on buildings in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and New York City, among other places.

Season Three: Episode 05 Pleas Baby Pleas

One of the cases the prosecutor tackles in this episode is an altercation on a bus that leads to a shooting. There was a lot of video footage of this unfolding, taken from many angles, inside the bus and also diagonally from across the street. We liked the idea of putting the art in motion, so Moth Studio created this animation of the bus on its route at night.

We asked Adam Maida, who also did the illustration for episode two, to create the piece we superimposed on the side of the bus. He focused on the machinery of the system, since so much of this episode is about how the prosecution works from the inside.

Season Three: Episode 06 You in the Red Shirt

In this episode, Jesse walked Emmanuel around a park, where Jesse had a run-in with East Cleveland police officers. We created an animation that showed the area of Forest Hill Park where the incident took place. Moth Studio opted for this unique movement that takes us from the tree line to the sky. 

Martinez E-B drew the illustration that Moth Studio added to the animation of the parking lot. Martinez is a native of Cleveland and now lives and works in the Chicago area. He is a multidisciplinary artist who creates work that touches on the cultural, social, and political issues of his upbringing.

Season Three: Episode 07 The Snowball Effect

The bulk of East Cleveland’s municipal government is run out of this modest building: East Cleveland City Hall. It contains the police department, the municipal court, the mayor’s office, and more.

Martinez E-B, the artist who created the mural for episode six, also did the mural for this episode, continuing the focus on Jesse and his encounters with the East Cleveland Police Department. Martinez returned to the idea of the jester, except in this piece he imagined Jesse trying to fight back. Martinez has illustrated and authored books, and his works have been adapted for theater. He has shown in numerous exhibits nationally. Martinez received his BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and his MA in interdisciplinary arts from Columbia College Chicago.

Once again, Moth Studio created this animation, which takes us from the roof to the front door, and superimposed Martinez’s mural on the face of the building.

Season Three: Episode 08 A Madman’s Vacation

In this episode, we focus on Joshua and his experience inside the juvenile justice system. For the animation, we wanted to depict a common area inside a center, a place where the kids would interact. We looked at photos of juvenile detention facilities in Ohio and in other states for inspiration, and then we created this composite version of a facility cafeteria.

Moth Studio is not only responsible for the modeling and animation on this one; they also drew the illustration on the cafeteria wall. Here Joshua is symbolized by one lone deer outside the movement of the herd.

Season Three: Episode 09 Some Time When Everything Has Changed

For our final episode animation, we decided to go back to court. Here is the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court building in Cleveland, where Joshua’s hearings took place. Moth Studio came up with the unique movement for the animation, which goes from the ground level up to the roof of the model.

Moth Studio also drew the illustration for this episode. The artist took advantage of both the roof and the sidewalk below, making it look as though the drawing locks into place. Since we continue Joshua’s story in the episode, we decided to show the lone deer  from the episode eight art again. Here, it is standing on its own, as the rest of the community goes about its business, seemingly detached from the criminal justice system as a whole.

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