Poignant Portfolio no. 10: Brian James Culbertson
by Brian James Culbertson
Brian Culbertson uses his photographs to raise questions about the depersonalization in modern medicine, where prescription drugs are given out to individuals based on symptoms, regardless of differences in their physical or chemical makeup. Adverse uses both the process and the end result to highlight the danger of this one-size-fits-all approach. Brian creates multi-layered portraits which are printed using the salt print process with prescription medication incorporated into the salt solution. The incorporation of medications used to alter the chemistry of the mind into the salted print process yields unpredictable results with each print - just as it does with our own bodies.
Originally from Chesapeake, Virginia, photographer Brian Culbertson currently lives in Greenville, North Carolina, where he is an instructor of art and art history at Pitt Community College. Brian has exhibited work internationally participating in exhibitions across the United States, Canada, China, and the United Arab Emirates. His work has been featured in publications such as The Hand Magazine, Don’t Take Pictures, and Light Leaked. Brian creates images that investigate photography's influence on cultural and social values. His recent research and body of work Adverse is focused on the prevalence of prescription medications in contemporary treatment of mental illness and, photography’s role in the representation of those living with mental illness.
From the Editor
I briefly met Brian Culbertson two years ago but didn’t really get a chance to look at his work in person until I reviewed his portfolio this past October at Click! Photography Festival in North Carolina. I was instantly taken with the combination of process and concept and am excited to share his work with our readers. The drawback to viewing this work on a device/screen is you can not see the physical vestige of prescription medicine used in the salt print process. What you can see though is the texture and painterly colors the medicine added to the already unnerving portraits Culbertson has created to represent mental illness. His photographs are flawed, messy and slightly distressing, reflecting the many adversities individuals with mental illness have to face. I feel like Culbertson has raised a lot of unanswered questions here, I wonder if he’ll present us any answers or just leave us hanging. Either way, well done my friend! Thanks to Brian for sharing his work with us.