Down to the wire for dental sculpture contest

News Archive

Down to the wire for dental sculpture contest

Entrants twisted dental materials into art in annual competition
Steve Steinberg

Dr. Mina Katchooi, who fashioned an elegant tableau, "The Water Lily," featuring a pond flower and hovering dragonfly, has won top honors in the School of Dentistry’s annual Department of Orthodontics wire sculpture contest for first-year residents.

Dr. Derek Hou came in second in the popular vote by faculty, staff and students with his entry, "Rudolph's Big Day,"  depicting Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Other finalists were Dr. Fedora Katz, for "Take Me to the Sea," Dr. Sheah Han Soh for "The Tree of Hope," and Kelly Weikert for "Wild Mustang,"

“Rising above the water to extract energy from the sun, the water lily is a reminder that perseverance will lead to reawakening,” read a small metal plaque accompanying Katchooi’s entry.

For the contest, which began in 1966, entrants must use predominantly orthodontic materials, such as wire, rubber bands and dental acrylic. Sculptures are judged for esthetic quality, innovative design and technical competence.

Previous contestants have submitted creations including an aquarium with wire decorations and live fish, the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, a winged dragon and the head of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

The contest was inspired by the late Ben Moffett, who spent three decades as a department faculty member. After taking a UW art class in form and function, he thought it would be helpful to have someone give weekly lectures on the subject at the School of Dentistry. Strong interest in the topic eventually led to the creation of the contest.