Name: Holiday Almeda
Made by and When: Leasa “Tutu” Souza, 2022
Material: Papier-mâché head with painted composition arms and legs, and a painted cloth body
Marks: Tutu (incised in the neck)
A cloth label stitched with red embroidery thread to the chest reads,
Holiday / #69 / Tutu Souza / Honolulu, Hi 1/22
A hangtag pinned to the chest reads,
Covid-19 / Pandemic/ Doll
Leo Moss/ – Inspired – / Hand Made Doll / “Holiday” / By Tutu Souza / Honolulu, Hi 1/22
The back of the hangtag bears a picture of an original Leo Moss doll, Mina, that is now part of the artist’s private collection. Mina (formerly owned by Myla Perkins) is the doll that brought Leo Moss’s dolls to the attention of the doll-collecting community at a 1973 UFDC convention.
This doll also has a handwritten message tucked inside the cloth name label.
Height: 22 inches
Hair, Eyes, Mouth, Other Distinguishing Features: Texturized papier-mâché black hair has three rows of elevated curls directed toward the forehead, brown glass eyes from Germany, closed mouth; Holiday Almeda has curled under, separated fingers and upturned great toes.
Clothes: Dressed in a white satin and tulle dress, vintage one-piece underwear, and fabric gardenia flowers in the hair
Other: A Leo-Moss-inspired doll, Holiday Almeda was named Holiday by the artist. Almeda was added as a middle name by the curator after learning about an enslaved young woman named Almeda who escaped to Canada to gain freedom at around age 22. Holiday Almeda is the artist’s 69th doll.
The message from the artist inside the doll’s name label reads:
This is “Holiday.” I created her over the Christmas holiday season and named her after the legendary & greatest jazz singer of all time, Billie Holiday. An incredibly strong woman, she channeled her suffering into deeply moving vocal performances… So I gave “Holiday” a smile instead of tears. I have channeled the difficulties of an ongoing pandemic into creating dolls. This has brought me great happiness. “Holiday” is wearing gardenia flowers in her hair & a satin and tulle fabric dress just like the great Lady Day. Tutu”
Leo Moss, a Black man and native of Macon, GA was a handyman by trade. Moss sculpted his doll heads of papier-mâché without the use of molds during the late 1800s through the early 1930s. See another museum installation of a Leo-Moss-inspired doll by Tutu here. Tutu remains inspired by Moss and continues to make Leo-Moss-inspired dolls that she sells in her Geranium Hill Treasures store on Ruby Lane.
Your comments are valued. Donations aid the initiative to preserve Black-doll history.
If you subscribe to DeeBeeGee’s Virtual Black Doll Museum™ by email, be sure to click the post title in the email, which links to the website to view all text and associated media. Please “like” and share this installation with your social media doll contacts. To subscribe, add your email address to the subscribe or sign-up field in the footer or right sidebar.