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Interview with Artist Chrystal Seawood

Obligation Man

Interview with recently arrived L.A. artist Chrystal Seawood by Justin Johnson of

What is the title of your latest series and what's the concept behind it?
The Trichotomy of 5 Cents is my latest series that explores the motives of African American entertainers who voluntarily performed in the humiliating character of Blackface.

In the series I examine three distinct forms of motivation: Greed, Passion, and Obligation.


Where are you from and what brings you to LA?
I'm from a small town called Forrest City, Arkansas. The population is about 15,000 with a familial atmosphere. It was a humble upbringing that taught me to appreciate the small things in life.

Now what brings me to LA? Wow...that's a great question...I would say the top 3 things that brought me to LA would be weather, creativity, and opportunity. There's something of having the ability to be on the forefront of culture and to be surrounded by people with ambitious goals and aspirations. I love the energy the city brings, it's invigorating.


What inspires you?
It's usually who inspires me. I'm attracted to people and their stories. Specifically, stories that aren't mainstream. Stories that are often overlooked, not usually discussed, or hidden within the layers of a complex entity.


What’s your favorite taco?
Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos with Avocados and onions. Must have a corn tortillia. Oh, and no sour cream – gotta watch the waist line :)

What's up next for you?
Well, I'll be working on a new series entitled “The New Totem Pole"

Too often, I've heard people equate their self worth based on their perceived position on the "totem pole". I've worked in corporate America and have seen the discrepancies in self esteem between the person who is the janitor and the person who is the CEO. I've also seen how people change once they are promoted. We often judge and intuitively place people within a certain section of this totem pole based on their intellect, net worth, title, race, and many other variables.

This work will be about breaking down those invisible walls of superiority/inferiority and place everyone on equal grounds. We've adhered to the rules of this unspoken & distilled mentality far too long. This paradigm needs to be uprooted and reconstructed onto a horizontal axis instead of a vertical one. I'm not advocating a system without structure and boundaries - because we all need some sense of checks and balances - but to merely treat everyone equally. Learn the name of your janitor! Show your waitress/waiter some respect! Say hello and even open the door for them. It's pretty simple.

obligation Man


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