Late Bloomer: A Journey Toward Sexual and Romantic Autonomy

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Eating Ass in Newark, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches, 2021

After her marriage ended two years ago, Lila Freeman began a quest to reclaim her sexual desires, which became the subject of this latest body of work. The human body has always been a primary subject in Freeman's art, in spite of her discomfort with her body. Since a childhood marked by patriarchal trauma, she always felt very sexual, yet afraid of physical and emotional intimacy. After a decade of monogamy, she formed consensually non-monogamous partnerships in which physical intimacy was a joy, inspiring a new art practice. Previously, she had considered any work she made to be inherently a "self-portrait," whether it depicted herself,her intimates, her environment, her possessions. She worked directly from life. Now, she has begun making what she calls "self-portraits via sex.” In her process, Freeman makes films with her lovers, then selects stills to develop into drawings, some of which will evolve into paintings. Through these experiences, she has begun to see herself how she always wished to be seen: provocative, desirable, worthy, and wildly happy. She has realized that she does not need the gaze of the Other to find herself, but that she has the power to subvert and own that gaze.