At first sight, Janette Faulkner’s collection of sheet music, each with its own illustrative cover, can be eye-catching and repulsive concomitantly. The colors and art work lure viewers into gawking, but the images, represented by caricatures of African Americans, destroy any attempt to enjoy the collection’s aesthetics. Faulkner at one point felt the same way stating, “Understanding caricature as an art form has enabled me to transcend my early days of anger and revulsion and to reach a level of understanding for the pieces acquired.” Transcending any of the material at first glance might be hard for an individual to do, particularly those whom the stereotypical images target.
|The cover of Hogan's ragtime song |
"All Coons Look Alike to Me."
|An autographed cover of "This Dancing |
Fool" signed by Stepin-Fetchit
Faulkner was a social worker, educator, activist, and noted collector of black memorabilia. It was as an undergraduate student at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, during the 1950s that Faulkner began amassing her collection. She was encouraged by Mary Turner, an antique dealer, who introduced her to collecting. It was on a buying tour with Mary that she found a picture post card of a black man with a mouth exaggerated in width, depth, and color. Afterwards, she began collecting similar items which expanded to include pencils, silver spoons, tobacco jars, books, games, toys, candy tins and post cards. Faulkner’s collection can serve as a powerful tool in understanding the development and consequences of these negative images in popular music.
Post by Chianta Dorsey.
Images from the Janette Faulkner Ethnic Notions Sheet Music Collection. May not be reproduced without permission.