Tally Pierce, winner of the Times Free Press's Wrapping Paper Contest, holds a gift wrapped in her design. Tally's repeating design of gingerbread men on a Christmas-green background caught the judge's attention for its humor in the expressions of cookies who have lost an arm or leg or part of their head to hungry snackers.
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Tally Pierce's winning design

Winners and finalists

› Winner: Tally Pierce, Thrasher Elementary

› Honorable mentions: Adalynn Owens, Nolan Elementary; Zoe Cates, East Brainerd Elementary; Yaretzi Sanchez, Bess T. Shepherd Elementary; DeShaun Acklin, Bess T. Shepherd Elementary


› Ada Boyd, Thrasher Elementary

› Callan Williams, Thrasher Elementary

› Kate Essex, Graysville Elementary

› Kensley Boyd, Brainerd Baptist School

› Maria Cansino, Bess T. Shepherd Elementary

› Online Readers Choice Contest winner: Tally Pierce, Thrasher Elementary

Contest judges

› Representing ArtsBuild: Rodney Van Valkenburg, Julie Jackson and Marte Williams

› Representing Chattanooga Kids on the Block: Kelly Williams, Meredith Rogers and Carmen Peace

› Representing Chattanooga Times Free Press: Matt McClane, Lin Parker and Sara Jackson

See more

Look inside today’s newspaper for a sheet of Tally Pierce’s wrapping paper, along with designs by the Honorable Mention winners.

Tally Pierce won third place with her first entry in the Times Free Press' annual Holiday Wrapping Paper Contest two years ago. Last December, her second attempt scored the Reader's Choice Award.

The third try was the charm for the third-grader at Thrasher Elementary School on Signal Mountain.

Tally, 8, was chosen by a panel of judges as the winner of the 2016 Wrapping Paper Contest for her whimsical design featuring repeating gingerbread men on a Christmas-green background. Look closely: All the gingerbread men untouched by hungry snackers wear happy smiles, but the expressions on those with an arm or leg bitten off vary from angry frowns to circular lips mouthing "Ow!"

"The judges loved the humor in Tally's design," says contest judge Rodney Van Valkenburg, ArtsBuild director of grants and initiatives.

"We first appreciated the pattern and the finished quality of the artwork," he says. "When we looked closer to discover the eaten parts and the facial expressions of the gingerbread men, we knew we had a winner."

Tally, daughter of Cathy and Scott Pierce of Signal Mountain (no relation to this writer), says she chose gingerbread men because they "seemed simple and fun." She cut her own gingerbread-man pattern for continuity in the design. And the idea of making expressions to match the cookies' missing appendages came to her while she was working on the art, she says.

Cathy Pierce says her daughter has had no art instruction other than a painting class she took from Mountain Arts Community Center when she was 4 years old and classroom lessons taught by Nancy Stagmaier, art teacher at Thrasher Elementary.

Stagmaier says she makes creating a wrapping paper design part of her classroom instruction for all her students in first through fifth grades, then it's up them whether or not they wish to submit their designs to the Times Free Press contest. Of the 12 years Stagmaier has been Thrasher's art teacher, this is her fifth year to have the winner in the Wrapping Paper Contest.

"I've saved winners from every year, whether they were Thrasher students or not. Before we start, we look at them in class, talk about what makes them work and what judges might be looking for," she says.

Three Thrasher students and three Bess T. Shepherd Elementary School students were among the contest's 10 finalists. Lin Parker, Times Free Press design editor, says the Bess T. Shepherd finalists are all fifth-grade students of art teacher Amy Ball.

"I was really impressed with the artwork from Amy Ball's class. They were thinking outside the box. DeShaun Acklin's tree design is an amazing pattern that looks like a kaleidoscope when repeated," Parker says.

Bess T. Shepherd's Yaretzi Sanchez drew two standing snowmen flanked by upright candy canes on the top half of a page then two snowmen with heads tilted toward each other and upside-down candy canes on the lower half. When repeated for wrapping paper, the heads of four tilted snowmen meet and the upturned candy canes link.

"You could tell how well thought out it was design-wise to make that repeating pattern," Parker says.

For her win, Tally receives a prize package that includes $25 cash, four tickets to the Hunter Museum of American Art, four tickets to the Bessie Smith Cultural Center and four tickets to a Chattanooga Theatre Centre's Youth Theatre production of her choice. Additionally, her winning design will be available at Chattanooga's Kids on the Block gift-wrapping stations inside Hamilton Place mall.

Readers will find a printed sheet of wrapping paper inside today's newspaper featuring the designs of Tally, DeShaun, Yaretzi, Zoe Cates of East Brainerd Elementary School and Adalynn Owens from Nolan Elementary School.

The artwork of all 10 finalists will be displayed in an exhibit at the Creative Discovery Museum, 321 Chestnut St., throughout this month.

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.