Artwork is Soldier's gift to Natick
May 7, 2012
NATICK, Mass. (May 7, 2012) -- Pfc. Melvin Hurn was raised in a family that appreciates creativity and service, and Hurn continues both traditions as a Soldier and an artist with exceptional talent and generosity.
Each command that Hurn has been assigned to has received an original piece of artwork from him, including the Natick Soldier Systems Center, where he served as a human research volunteer.
"It's pretty much a habit for me. I actually like leaving my mark everywhere I go," said Hurn, laughing.
Hurn, who hails from Pineville, S.C., started drawing at a very young age. With an appreciation for anime and animation, he hopes to create better-quality cartoons in the future. Hurn is considering college at some point and would like to study animation.
"When I was four years old, I was in Hawaii," Hurn said. "My art teacher became a great character designer for one of my favorite games, so he really inspired me."
Hurn admitted that he sometimes goes months to years without drawing, but it's a passion he always comes back to, eventually. In addition to drawing and painting, the versatile artist has designed tattoos and a house layout.
"I kind of just go with the flow," said Hurn about his creative process. "It kind of hits me with music. I have to have music on. It soothes me. I listen to lots of things -- hip hop, rock, sometimes classical. (I) mix it up."
"The only thing I can't stand right now is country (music). What happened was all through basic they played country every day. Then the drill sergeant made us sing country songs, so I'm kind of tired of it for a little while. It's not that I don't like it. I just can't hear it for a while."
The artwork that he leaves behind at NSSC was partially inspired by members of Hurn's family. After starting to draw a face, Hurn realized he was drawing his cousin. He then ended up drawing a boy who looked like his younger brother, "except without the little goatee going on."
Hurn joined the Army when he was 17 and was in ROTC at Timberland High School in Pineville.
"I decided to join the Army because my family is Army-based," Hurn said. "My uncle joined. My dad joined. I have a lot of family already in the Army."
When Hurn went to advanced individual training at Fort Eustis, Va., he was part of the Charlie Company "Slayers." For this command Hurn, created two pieces that now hang on opposite ends of its hallway.
"One is a knight with a big sword and the other one is a knight pretty much chilling on a throne," Hurn said.
He later created two more pieces for the company.
Captain Justin Fitch, commander of the Headquarters Research and Development Detachment at NSSC, is proud of his Soldiers and happy to applaud their individual skills.
"I just thought it was interesting and important to recognize Soldier service," Fitch said. "Some of them have talent, and sometimes that goes without being noticed. I thought it was interesting to recognize the human side of the Soldier.
"Hurn is pretty unique, and art is something that it looks like he's held onto, which is actually kind of rare," Fitch said.
Fitch explained that creating art like this is a tradition of sorts, and that many units display artwork, usually on building exteriors. Concrete blast barriers overseas make worthy canvasses.
"They're just drab," said Fitch, "and we'll have people paint them up to reflect the unit's mark (on) the area."
Hurn's entire family has been supportive of his gift. He joked about how his father brags constantly about his artwork and how his mother hates when he throws away any of his work. In fact, all of the members of his immediate family are artists in their own right: His sister sings, one younger brother draws, another brother writes, and his parents are both creative.
Hurn has found his talent appreciated in both families he belongs to -- his own and the Army.