Please Touch the Art!

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Jay Roberts and Richard Youngstrom are two Jamaica Plain Open Studios artists who work with glass, but in very different ways.

Roberts creates slumped glass, which, although it may sound funny, is a serious process. He has been slumping glass for fifteen years. Glass is melted in a kiln over a mold to create the shape. The slumping process itself involves the kiln at 1400-1700 degrees, in which Roberts places molds he creates himself. The molds can only be used once, so each piece of glass is completely unique. The colors and movement of the glass inspire him.

Roberts is a software engineer with a chemistry major in college, so he understands the science behind his art. He recently purchased a 3D printer for his home, and has started to make his own molds for glass slumping.

While Roberts works with full, thick pieces of glass, Youngstrom works with some of the smallest pieces of glass he can find. In fact, if one of Roberts’ works fell and crashed into bits, Youngstrom would be right there to pick up the broken shards and make something new with them. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as they say.

Youngstrom is a mosaic artist, who creates everything from small pieces to hang on walls to the actual walls themselves; you name it- he’s done it. He describes his work “like painting but with a limited palette” and like “a jig-saw puzzle”. Youngstrom likes the permanence of mosaics, and can making art out of something which others would never be able to see as art until it’s all put together. He describes himself as a collector.

Youngstrom actually started out in watercolor, before moving on to his mosaic pieces, which he has now been doing for over ten years. He says he “hit mosaics and thought ‘this is it’.” He loves the recycling aspect of it and also the fact that it involves destruction before creation.

The fact that he can work with his hands so much has made him think about the fact that most art, once completed, is not meant to be touched by anyone, just looked at. He however encourages people to feel the texture of what he creates, and at Jamaica Plain Open Studios you can find a sign at this studio, which reads, “Please touch the art.”

You can experience both Roberts’ and Youngstroms’ artwork this year at Jamaica Plain Open Studios. Roberts’ artwork will be shown at St. John’s Church on the corner of Revere and Roanoke and you can find Youngstrom at the First Baptist Church on Centre Street.

JPOS is celebrating its 22nd year as the premiere annual arts event in Jamaica Plain.  JPOS showcases 200 artists in 40 sites.  The event is open to the public and will take place September 19 and 20 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  For more information and to preview artists’ work, visit or the JPOS Facebook page.

The writer is a volunteer with the Jamaica Plain Arts Council.