Indulge in the decorative cakes of Scott Csoke, where things aren’t quite as sweet as they seem
We chat to the Virginia-based artist about his thought-provoking work, where messages are splayed atop baked goods depicting “the unspoken truths of gay culture”.
- Ayla Angelos
- 12 January 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
“My own life experiences are what gives me inspiration,” says Scott Csoke, an artist living in Richmond, Virginia. Now in his late-20s, he recalls the sweet times visiting his grandfather’s house when he was a child, where he’d observe the hobbyist at work, painting as he pleased in his own time. Scott, too, has been drawing for the large part of his life, having first started at the age of 12 when he picked up a brush like his grandfather. “I didn’t really know that people could make something like that by themselves and it was fascinating to me,” he tells It’s Nice That.
Alongside this, Scott’s childhood was one that was full of travelling. He moved around a fair bit and, in turn, steered towards art and drawing as it didn’t need any other participants. “It didn’t require having friends and I could do it anywhere,” he says, noting that his interest in the medium transferred through to high-school, where he was encouraged by an array of inspiring teachers. “I was completely entranced by it and I was so terrible at every other subject, that I devoted all of my time to drawing and painting.” Scott then continued to pursue his love of the arts and, despite a short-lived turn studying photography at Virginia Commonwealth University, would enthusiastically paint on the side. Upon graduation, that’s when he decided to fully devote all his efforts towards his practice.
The most fundamental of all influences, however, is that he’s had to deal with terrible bouts of anxiety “and that was my biggest inspiration for the longest time because that’s all that ever happened to me,” he says. As he grew older and came out, he soon had a lot of “terrifying realisations” about the gay community and his own identity. This resultantly changed his art, which simultaneously altered alongside his life events.
As a response, the artist has built an entire portfolio replete with painted cakes which features decorative, blunt and humorous messaging on the topic of his own experiences within the gay community. Scott refers to these messages as the “unspoken truths of gay culture,” where unhealthy behaviours have become apparent. “That’s all they know,” he says of the ways that gay men perpetuate these actions, “which is not really an excuse. It may be a reason why you do something, but you have the choice to act on that or not. There is so much sadness and anguish in the gay community that nobody talks about because all anybody from the outside sees is a pride parade or ‘gay best friend’, or however they are portrayed on shows. But it is more complex than that.”
Scott continues to cite racism, transphobia and misogyny as recurring issues that seem to pop up unavoidably within the community. All of which are “disguised” as a “preference”, but he calls it out as discrimination and attitudes that are only fuelling the “already blazing mental health crisis in the LGBTQIA+ community.” He adds: “We are an incredibly complex group of people and this is not an easy life, but there has to be more acceptance – starting with us.”
The work at hand positively blares out sentences like “When did you realised you had internalised homophobia?”, “I’m gay and gay men make me mad”, “Stop trying to guess whether to not I’m a top or a bottom”, and “Stop fetishising straight men”. All of which grace divine-looking cakes, sweet-looking and colourfully composed in shades of pinks, blacks, yellows, blues and whites. A contrast to the serious tone behind Scott’s messaging.
Provoking change, causing a stir, or simply just expressing how he feels about his identity; whatever Scott’s outcome, rest assured he wants it to be a positive one. “I am talking about things that gay people don’t usually talk about and it’s validating or therapeutic for some,” he says, stating how he’s never quite sure how people will respond, and that kind of adds to the charm of it. Above all, however, he’s making art: “Some people love it and some people hate it,” he concludes. “Either way, I want all people to know that gay art is not just about sex or a photo of a scantily clad, muscular, white, cis man on a bed. Any art made by a gay person is gay art, and we need to start valuing non-sexual work in the same way many blindly praise an illustration of two muscular men in a bed.”
Scott Csoke: Untitled (Are You Queer Like Me?). (Copyright © Scott Csoke, 2020)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.