UW School of Dentistry

Orthodontics students show off their artistic side

Competitors in the School of Dentistry’s annual orthodontics wire sculpture contest have come up with breathtaking creations year after year since the contest’s inception in 1966. The intricate, delicately fashioned entries have included everything from a geisha figure to the Eiffel Tower to the Lion King.

This year was something else, however. With one of the strongest groups of entries in memory, the  Department of Orthodontics declined to pick a winner. Instead, it chose to honor each of the five entrants in the contest, which is open to first-year orthodontics residents. Entrants must use predominantly orthodontic materials, such as wire, rubber bands and dental acrylic, and their work is judged for esthetic quality, innovative design and technical competence.

“Crazy Plant Lady” by Dr. Lauren Lewandowski. She says that these are “wire sculptures representing three plants in my collection: aloe vera, sempervivum (succulent), and astrophytum (cactus).”

This year’s field included:

“La Catrina” by Dr. Gabriela Aragon-Meyer, a depiction of an iconic figure in Mexico’s Day of the Dead observance.

“Transitions” by Dr. Leigh Armijo, which shows three yoga poses.

“Off to the Races!” by Dr. Emily Knott, showing a racehorse and rider in full sprint.

“Crazy Plant Lady” by Dr. Lauren Lewandowski, who fashioned representations of three of her own plants.

“Wired Wired West” by Dr. Sarah McMartin, showing a bucking bronco and its rider.

The contest was inspired by Dr. Ben Moffett, a School of Dentistry professor emeritus of orthodontics who passed away in 2008 after serving as a faculty member for three decades. In the 1960s, he took a UW art class in form and function, and was inspired to bring a lecturer on the subject to the School of Dentistry for weekly talks. Continuing interest in the subject soon led to the creation of the contest.

“Off to the Races” by Dr. Emily Knott. She says: “Moving from Kentucky, I wanted to create some Southern flair paying homage to my beloved horse races. Saturdays cheering on the thoroughbreds is a treasured Kentucky tradition!”
yoga wire sculpture

“Transitions” by Dr. Leigh Armijo. She says: ‘I have been taking yoga classes for the past several years, and a main focus of the practice is on mind and body wellness. Smooth transitioning between poses is geared toward improving core strength and preventing injury. I have depicted a transition between three common poses: Warrior 2, Reverse Warrior and Side Angle, in which the lower body stays static while the torso and arms are the moving parts.”

head wire sculpture

“La Catrina” by Dr. Gabriela Aragon-Meyer. She says: “The Catrina was invented by lithographer José Guadalupe Posada in 1910, during the first rumblings of discontent that led to the Mexican Revolution. She initially served as a satirical comment on the Mexican aristocracy that was desperately trying to emulate the European fashion and was thus denying its own cultural heritage. She was further popularized by the muralist Diego Rivera, and portrayed as an elegantly dressed female skeleton. Over the last century, The Catrina has evolved beyond a means of social commentary into an icon in the Mexican Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos. “La Catrina” embodies the perspective the Mexican people have toward death, which is not only viewed as an equalizing force, but is embraced as a part of life.”

rodeo rider

“Wired Wired West” by Dr. Sarah McMartin. She says: “As a horse-crazy girl from Eastern Washington, I decided to create a bucking bronco for my sculpture. I really love the energy and movement the image invokes and hoped to create the same feeling with my sculpture.”