Maille Uyehara was awarded first place on May 3 in the 39th Congressional District Art Competition for her depiction of a tender moment between an elderly Nisei veteran and his young grandson.
She is currently a senior at Glen A. Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights.
Uyehara was a member of the Yonsei 22 basketball team and said meeting Nisei veterans was an inspiration for the painting entitled “Go For Broke.” Among her influences are the works of early 20th-century illustrators Norman Rockwell and JC Leyendecker. Working in acrylics, she said she was trying to convey a nostalgic feel as the young boy looks at his grandfather’s Purple Heart medal.
She has been drawing since she was five, but only began painting four years ago in high school.
“I wanted to create a piece that combined these elements but related to me. So I decided to create a piece on the 442nd Regimental Combat Unit because their patriotic heroism is a story that often goes unrecognized,” Uyehara said. “I have met some of these incredible individuals while volunteering as a Yonsei Basketball player. Their story inspired me and encapsulated everything that makes me proud to be a Japanese American.
“The grandfather depicted in the piece was based off of a photo of my grandfather. My grandfather did not serve in the 442nd but I wanted to use him as a reference for my piece.”
Uyehara will be attending the University of Michigan in the fall, majoring in art. She hopes to pursue a career in film and television, utilizing her artistic ability in storyboarding or character design.
“Go For Broke” will be displayed in the hallway at the U.S. Capitol for one year. The 39th Congressional District covers parts of the east San Gabriel Valley (Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, Diamond Bar) to northern Orange County (Fullerton, Brea, Yorba Linda).
Uyehara will receive a free trip to Washington to view her painting. She plays basketball with JAO Jetts Fusion and is president and secretary of Suburban Optimist Club Junior Optimists.
At Glen A. Wilson High, she played varsity basketball for four years and is founder of the American Sign Language Club.