Sulfur Studios celebrated is fifth anniversary earlier this year. The complex at 2301 Bull St. has established itself as a vital community space for artists and art lovers.
“It seems like an incredibly long time, but it also seems like 5 seconds ago,” Sulfur Studios co-founder Emily Earl told me a few days ago.
“We were reaching an awesome peak,” Earl said. “The studios were buzzing all the time.”
Over time, Earl and her partners Jennifer Moss and Alexis Javier, added other elements like Sulfur Art Services, a program for partnering with artists and businesses for exhibitions in public spaces.
And then came the pandemic.
“It’s definitely quieter,” Earl said. The renters of studios aren’t interacting as much, and a few who have been hit hard financially gave up their spaces.
But Earl seemed confident that new renters would be found.
“It’s such a great space to work in,” Earl said. “It’s nice to have a space away from your house.” The Sulfur website has a map and the pricing of the available spaces. Artists also have the option of being members of Sulfur even if they do not rent studios.
Sulfur’s gallery typically has regular openings, but that space is now closed.
For months, Earl and her team have been planning a members’ show called “Spectrum,” which will be comprised entirely of monochromatic work, but that exhibition will be difficult to appreciate in an online format.
“People need to see that in person,” Earl said, so the curatorial team is considering opening the exhibition for appointment viewing after the installation in June.
Sulfur Art Services has ongoing relationships with businesses like Starland Café and The Sentient Bean, so work is hanging in those establishments, but the best bet for now is to see the art on the Sulfur website.
Sulfur Art Services also collaborates with Green Truck Pub on the restaurant’s Drive Thru Art Box, which is currently hosting "Die Existenz" by Kench Lott Weathers.
Weathers uses forms that play with our perception of space, according to Earl.
“I’d like for us to do more public art,” Earl said.
Earl is also a photographer.
The High Museum of Art in Atlanta in 2017 purchased seven photos from her series “Late Night Polaroids,” a provocative exploration of Savannah’s nightlife scene.
About 30 images from the series will be included in a solo #art912 exhibition scheduled to open in August at the Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center for the Arts. A monograph is in the works.
“It’s a big question mark,” Earl said when I asked her about her future work.
“I’m kind of worried about it, to be honest,” she said matter-of-factly. “I just don’t know what it’s going to be like.”
The pandemic has closed the bars and impacted the nightlife scene, but Earl has also had to adjust to the increasingly high price of the Polaroid film that she has used. She has been working with a new camera, but subjects react more negatively than they did to the classic Polaroid.
“It’s all about the random whoever happens to be there,” Earl said when I asked about finding her subjects for “Late Night Polaroids.”
After spending so much time photographing younger people at night, Earl is now considering a project that involves older subjects during the day, but the time isn’t yet right for what she envisions.
On top of all that, Earl also continues to run her business Prismatic Prints out of a space at Sulfur Studios.
Earl said that she has been busy in recent weeks with a number of clients, including artists who are now planning to post high-quality digital images of their own work on the internet.
As she focuses on the printing business and plans for new directions in her photography, Earl is spending much of her time looking at images created by other artists. She told me that she was recently struck by the visuals in three classic films: “Hiroshima Mon Amour,” “The Last Picture Show” and “The Night of the Hunter.”
“You could pause on any frame of those movies, and it’s just beautiful as a still,” Earl said.
Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at hissing lawns (www.hissinglawns.com).
frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>