Airman Stapf Brightens DFAC with Mural

photo of artist, Senior Airman Stapf

Senior Airman Kayla R. Stapf, a member of the 171st Air Refueling Wing Force Support Squadron, poses beside the mural that she both designed and painted in the dining facility at the 171st Air Refueling Wing, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Aug. 11, 2017. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan A. Conley)

CORAOPOLIS, Pa. --

When visiting the newly renovated dining facility here, you will certainly notice the large, colorful mural inhabiting the northern wall. The mural depicts an eagle unfurling its wings over the enlisted rank structure displayed beneath it. The sky is the haze of a multi-colored sunset emanating from a base logo occupying the place of the sun with a stylized depiction of the Pittsburgh skyline at the horizon.


Senior Airman Kayla R. Stapf, a member of the 171st Air Refueling Wing’s Force Support Squadron Fatality Search and Recovery Team, finished painting the new mural on Aug 11, 2017.


Stapf was selected after submitting her conceptual design in response to a base wide request for an artist to paint the mural.  The new mural adds color and personality to what would otherwise be an unadorned and blasé backdrop.


Stapf recently graduated from California University of Pennsylvania in California, Pa. with a bachelor’s degree of science in education. She specifically holds a certification in art. Her license allows her to teach kindergarten through grade 12, and has plans of teaching in the future. Stapf decided she wanted to teach art when she was in high school, citing her art teacher as a major influence. She admired his dedication to detail spending long, tedious hours on even the smallest of canvases. This dedication was inspirational in choosing a career path.


Stapf embodied that dedication in the completion of the mural.


The artwork took her ten days to complete, encompassing over 45 hours of work. This doesn’t include the time spent developing the initial concept design. The mural was accomplished while perched on a wooden platform of scaffolding. Stapf labored at her task, sketching and painting in progressive evolving layers until the final piece was realized.


Stapf based the imagery on themes of enlisted recognition and local spirit.


“I highlighted the eagle because it’s our national symbol,” said Stapf. “I chose the enlisted rank insignia, because I wanted the theme to be enlisted recognition. I incorporated the bridges and Pittsburgh skyline, because that’s where our base is located. The base logo was suggested by Senior Master Sgt. Ferricks.”


Stapf remarked on her favorite part of the artistic process.


“My favorite part was the eagle,” said Stapf. “I wanted it to be the main focal point. I feel like it is the most interesting. It was cool to see it come to life.”


Despite her love of painting and art, there were some less than enjoyable moments.


“My least favorite part was the bridges and buildings,” said Stapf. “It was a challenge to get the right angle, because I had to lean off the edge of the scaffolding, which was awkward. I erased the outline about 500 times.”


“It’s all about persistence,” said Staph. “That’s what inspires me about art.”


Fortified by the inspiration of her artistic mentors and the support of her leadership, Stapf was able to dedicate herself to using her talents toward a project that uplifts us all. A mural that pays tribute to our armed forces, the enlisted force structure, our base, and the greater Pittsburgh area. So, the next time you’re in the dining facility, take a moment to appreciate the time, effort and skill Airman Stapf put into beautifying our dining atmosphere through dedication and excellence.