By Elle McLogan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Brooklyn-based artist Sara Erenthal is preparing for Backstory, her solo exhibition.

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The show, curated by Nina Blumberg and opening Thursday at Lower East Side gallery THE STOREFRONT PROJECT, will showcase Erenthal’s motifs painted in acrylic on unlikely canvases—old paintings collected from thrift shops and flea markets.

Giving old objects new life is a theme in much of Erenthal’s work. She has gained recognition for her distinctive street art, which repurposes household garbage.

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“When I walk around, wherever I happen to be, and I see something in [a] trash pile outside, like a piece of furniture or a mattress, I like to draw on it and leave it there for people to enjoy. And often, actually, people grab it,” she said.

While the fate of the works are largely unknown, she sometimes discovers through word of mouth or on social media that old mattress covers and dresser drawers bearing her art are on display in strangers’ homes.

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Not everyone can afford her studio works. But those that stumble upon one of her drawings on a broken mirror or discarded card table can take it home for free.

“I really like the idea of making art accessible and public,” she said. “People are getting to know my work in a very unconventional way, and that’s really fun.”

Her interest in giving old objects new life began when she chose a new life of her own.

“I grew up in an extreme fundamentalist ultra-orthodox Jewish community. I grew up with a lot of questions and discomfort,” she said.

When she was 17, her parents proposed an arranged marriage for her. She ran away from home.

“I would say that it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do and [one of the] loneliest things I’ve had to do, but the most worthy thing that I did in my life,” she said.

Erenthal spent the next several years learning all she could about life outside her community.

“Even being friends with a guy was a big, complicated situation for me,” she said.

She began drawing daily and seeing her art evolve. It became her emotional outlet.

“That’s when I realized that this is something I need to do for the rest of my life.”

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Elle McLogan