Fanciful nose art has been appearing on military aircraft since WWII, with inspiration supplied by such cultural icons as pin-up girls, Disney characters and the Grim Reaper. For one Macomb Media and Communication Arts (MACA) student, however, inspiration for the design she entered into a contest sponsored by Selfridge Air National Guard Base came from a nobler source.
“My father was a soldier in World War II, he’s been gone for some time now. I couldn’t help but feel his presence as I worked,” relates Marianne Pupka. “My husband, who has also passed, was an avid war historian. I think my dad was on one shoulder and Warren on the other. I think they would have been pleased with the outcome.”
Pupka took third in the contest that asked artists to incorporate Selfridge’s 2017 centennial into a design for the nose of two types of military aircraft. Taking first and second for their nose art, respectively, were Rachel Barton and Scott Whiteside. All of the winners received scholarships to Macomb, while the winning design will be painted on the noses of the 127th Wing’s KC-135 Stratotanker, an aerial refueler, and its 107th Fighter Squadron’s A-10 Thunderbolt II, which provides combat air support.
“My interpretation was to create something that honored (Selfridge’s) first hundred years and shows the connection between Selfridge, the community, state and country,” explains Pupka of her design. “My research on Michigan led me to the words ‘I will defend,’ which is the translation of Tuebor on the Michigan state flag.”
Pupka attended art school after high school and enjoyed a full-time career as a graphic artist and production manager before her position became a casualty of industry downsizing. Deciding it was time to take a “deep dive” into interactive media, she started taking MACA classes at Macomb and will earn her associate degree next year.
“I’m enjoying my time at Macomb,” says Pupka, who also works part time as a graphic artist with UPS. “It had been a long time since I’d been in a classroom, but I’m getting a lot out of it.”
Aside from hopes of finding full-time employment after she graduates, two other motivators keep her focused when the going gets tough.
“I have two very creative granddaughters who always want to draw with me,” says Pupka. “Whenever possible, I do my homework while I’m watching them so they can see how important determination is.”