ROTO PASADENA was a trilogy of animated installations that took place at the Pasadena Civic Center on August 13, 2016, funded by a National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant, and co-sponsored by the Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division and Side Street Projects.
This community-based, public art project was created by Lisa Mann and Yo-Yo Lin in collaboration with two teen groups: YouthBuild, serving teens in foster care, and La Pintoresca Teen Education Center (LPTEC), a free, after-school arts program in Northwest Pasadena.
Through workshops conducted by Mann and Yo-Yo, YouthBuild students interviewed and filmed Pasadena Police officers and City Hall employees to gain an understanding of their philosophy and responsibilities and to investigate deeper questions of race and identity.
LPTEC teens, under the guidance of LA poet Angela Aguirre, wrote and performed a spoken word poem "My City Is a Place Where..." in which they described the joys and the challenges of growing up in Northwest Pasadena. This inspiring and honest poem became the soundtrack for a short film the students made illustrating their thoughts and feelings about their home town.
Mann also interviewed 13 of her Pasadena neighbors about their wide-ranging interests. The resulting videos were then digitally hand-traced or “rotoscoped,” one frame at a time, by Mann, Yo-Yo, and a core team of USC student animators: Cheryl Chan, Brenda Chen, DaAe Kim, Kathy Liu, Madeleine Rodriguez, Andrew Setiawan, with support from Juliette Duvette, Erika Gomi, and Dave Zhu, as well as high school student animators Karina Barrios, Imani Canady, and Stephanie Estrada.
They created colorful animations that were projection mapped two stories high directly onto the massive gates of the Central Library, a corner of the majestic City Hall, and the facade of the Police Station, as site-specific installations along Garfield Avenue.
The collaboration successfully utilized art to open a two-way dialogue and create empathy and understanding between Pasadena officials and the citizens–especially teens–that they serve and protect.