Living in Bushwick, one of NYC’s popular “walking-tour” destinations, it was easy to experience street-art fatigue. I became quite used to living in this environment, where murals often cover every visible inch of wall. But while I acknowledged the talent displayed, I became so desensitized that none of it registered anymore.
There was, however, a recurring set of striking yet simple female faces that had caught my attention. As I regularly began to notice these portraits, I realized they were everywhere.
I was now completely ablaze with curiosity. After some research and reaching out, I eventually was in contact with the artist, Sara Erenthal.
It turns out that the faces have a story, and their ubiquity can be attributed to Erenthal’s work ethic.
According to the artist, they are a “subconscious self-portrait . . . they represent different stages of my life and different emotions.”
Erenthal, who grew up in a restrictive ultra-orthodox Jewish home, has had quite a different life since she quit religion. Her work is a sort of healing process that helps her understand the experience .
“It’s like taking a part of me, outside of me, onto something else ,and then processing it once it’s out there already . . . by looking at my own work I start seeing all these emotions I put out and it’s almost like scary, but it’s also like, a way to let go,” she told Bushwick Daily.
Although her work is personal, the redemptive nature of Erenthal’s art speaks to a much wider audience.
“I realized very quickly that people felt connected to it for some reason, and a lot of people can see themselves in it,” Erenthal said.
The appeal of Erenthal’s work can be quantified in a peculiar way. Erenthal has adopted a practice of fashioning canvas out of found objects and trash. When she can’t carry an object back to her studio, she just paints on it and leaves it where she found it. Her fans quickly caught on to this practice and now race to be the first to find her hidden art pieces and keep them as their own.
“By drawing on things that people leave around, I was actually cleaning the streets. People are picking up pieces that they once wouldn’t want but now wanted because it has art on it.”