Teen manipulates and masters objects

Community Portrait
By: Michael Kirby
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Sixteen-year-old Kaden Hurst just doesn’t seem to have the same interests as his peers. You could call him a Renaissance man, a throw back, or old school if you want, because he’s a little hard to describe. He loves simple things, and while other kids his age might be addicted to electronic video games, Hurst finds simple fun elsewhere. Hurst is home-schooled, but would be a sophomore if he were attending a high school. He attended Live Oak Waldorf School in Applegate for elementary school. He lives in Meadow Vista with his parents and four brothers. First, Hurst is quite the musician, playing guitar, mandolin, bass guitar, ukulele, accordion, piano, drums and saxophone, but this is where traditional teenage activities stops. Hurst discovered a very interesting hobby while attending Camp Augusta, a summer camp just outside of Nevada City three years ago that has just captivated him. Hurst calls it object manipulation, which loosely covers a wide umbrella of activities that involve tricks with some fairly primitive instruments and objects. “One of the activities offered was this object manipulation class and it was fun. I really enjoyed it and I sort of took off on my own, learning more by looking on the Internet for more advanced projects,” Hurst said. It’s visual, part sleight-of-hand, part juggling and maybe what you might see at a carnival or Renaissance faire. His bag of tricks even includes spinning a baton around his body with fire on both ends. Hurst’s favorite skill is Poi spinning, which is done with objects attached to short elastic cords that he manipulates by swinging in the air doing tricks and movements, and it’s especially fun at night when the objects light up with small battery-powered LED lights inside. Watching Hurst at play is fascinating and fun and you can tell he truly loves what he’s doing. He puts on an enthusiastic show and participated in the Art Walk two weeks ago in Auburn’s Central Square, attracting quite a crowd. He doesn’t need much space and requires no computers, no music and no electricity. The tools of his craft are simple. Some are made of wood, some of metal and sometimes the ends burn with fire. He could probably best be described as a modern day court jester, with amazing talent to confuse and play tricks on the eyes, juggling objects and making a crystal ball seem to float in thin air between his fingers. Hurst occasionally collaborates with other performers at festivals, picking up new tricks and inspiration. “The best performers are underground, and most people have never heard of them,” Hurst said. “It’s the simplicity of it that I enjoy, it’s just you and an object.” His parents, Michelle and Ken Hurst, are supportive but have some concerns when he spins with fire. “Most people think that the spinning fire is Hawaiian or that I’m a dark person or pyromaniac, which I’m neither,” he said. “The people involved in this are the nicest people you could ever meet.”