Kathryn Flocken sat at a small table armed only with a pair of tiny, sharp scissors and pieces of black paper. With precision, she made quick snips to the paper, occasionally glancing at her student model to cut out his or her profile.
Flocken was brought in as a guest artist by Pasco-Hernando Community College and its True Anime and Gaming Club as part of "Asian Day," one of the events scheduled at the college's West Campus for 2013 Art & Culture Week.
Flocken's hand-cut silhouettes are part of a long history of "shadow portraits" popular through England during the 18th and 19th centuries. Silhouettes are usually in the image of a person and are represented as a solid shape of a single color.
Flocken learned the art form while working for Walt Disney World in Orlando, where she cut silhouettes full time for nearly five years. Now she cuts silhouettes for students at colleges across the country, as well as at libraries, museums, weddings and private parties.
"I like the reaction from people," Flocken said. "They're amazed that it's hand-cut and not traced with light and they don't usually know it's an historical art form."
Art & Culture Week examines and celebrates the arts and cultural influences on modern society. The events are free and open to the community. Other events include clay spinning, cultural diversity panels, live painting and more.
"The art part really opens people's minds up and allows them to think creatively," said Bob Bade, PHCC's associate dean of student activities and engagement. "We are trying to prepare our students to be paradigm shifters in whatever career they decide to go into and they will have to think outside the box a bit. Art has a tendency to open up your mind."
Around Flocken's tables were booths set up by the anime club members and other student organizations. One table was filled with origami, mostly folded paper cranes. Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted a wish or eternal good luck.
Students also held a dance-off to the Internet hit "Gangnam Style," a song and video made by South Korean musician Psy. They ate Chinese food and Pocky, a Japanese chocolate-coated biscuit stick snack.
Asian Day started out as a miniature convention for the True Anime and Gaming Club, said club president Jill Hilbish. It was integrated into PHCC's Art & Culture Week three years ago. It has given the club an opportunity to increase membership and expose more students to Asian culture and anime, Japanese animations characterized by colorful graphics, large-eyed characters and fantasy themes.
Students wandered through the festival in between classes to sample Pocky, grab a free lunch and check out the booths. Engineering student Malik Green won a prize pack in a contest at the event.
"Everything was cool," Green said. "I'll probably check out the other events if I wander past them on my way to classes."
Across the room, Flocken was cutting another silhouette, one of dozens she'd cut that morning. One went with the student and a second one was pasted on a display board to be gifted to the college.
"I like to give them something extra as a thank-you for having me," Flocken said.