Behold! A Dandy Lion

Last night, ThatKellieGirl attended the opening reception of the Dandy Lion: Articulating a Re(de)fined Black Masculine Identity at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.  It was a wonderful evening honoring the style and sophistication of black men.  Emerging photographers and filmmakers presented refreshing images of young black men who challenge popular notions of urban black masculinity.

This exhibition defies the negative image of the black male as a “thug” and explores contemporary expressions of the Black Dandy, the sophisticated urban gentleman whose swagger embodies African aesthetics, elements of European fashion, and variety of other personal influences.

The curator for the exhibit Shantrelle P. Lewis, a native of New Orleans and a Howard alum, is passionate about telling the stories of people from the African diaspora.  This exhibit views black masculinity through a new lens, as it suggests alternative styles of dress and lifestyle.

“Juxtaposed against an urban backdrop where the clothing of choice for many black men consists of a pair of sagging pants, exposed boxers and white tees, the ‘hip-hop’ generation has produced another phenomenon of style – the New Age dandy,” states Lewis.

Dr. Michelle Joan Wilkinson, director of collections and exhibitions at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum notes, “Curator Shantrelle P. Lewis shines a new light on traditions of self-fashioning that have been a core part of black cultural expression. Her focus is not only ‘dandy’ aesthetics, but also on showing black men as ‘lions’ who stand proud, regal, and in command of their domain.”

This exhibition debuted at Society HAE in Harlem, then traveled to Amsterdam, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, and most recently to Newark’s Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art, before coming to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. Since its inaugural showing, Dandy Lion has grown in breadth and scope, and the Baltimore installation features the most comprehensive list of photographers of all venues.

The talented photographers and filmmakers featured are:

Hanif Abdur-Rahim

Kwesi Abbensetts

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Kia Chenelle

Bouba Dola

Delphine Fawundu-Buford

Russsell K. Frederick

Cassi Amanda Gibson

Akintola Hanif

Jamala Johns

Caroline W. Kaminju

Phillis Kwentoh

Jati Lindsay

Lafotographeuse (née Amanda Adams-Louis)

Ray Llanos

Devin Mays

Terence Nance

Brandi Pettijohn

Radcliffe Roye

Nyugen E. Smith

This is a worthwhile exhibit to visit. The exhibit runs until May13th. Check it out.

And look for a follow-up feature on this event! 🙂


  1. I am a dandy in London and would like to make some constructive criticisms of this article if you are agreeable? I have briefly browsed your site to try and locate a “contact” section or email address but can’t find it.

    My main criticism is that Dandyism is NOT *mainly* about the clothes or outer appearance. It is much deeper than that, arguably even being a spiritual type thing.

    However, dressing well is a dandy attribute, so why are some of the people in the photos wearing jeans?

    I hope my tone does not seem harsh, because that is not my intention.

    • Thanks for stopping by to check out the blog. And yes, I wholeheartedly agree with you that a dandy is not just about clothing. In my websiode, I believe it was stated that it is a way of life. I love seeing so many men living a positive (as well as stylish) lifestyle. It promotes being a person of good character. In the US, I believe dandyism is still evolving. For many, it is a novelty, but a lifestyle for a dedicated few. However, I believe dandies will always be among us, and continue growing in major US cities.

      And lastly, my contact information (email address) is in the “about” section, but it is a good idea to have a contact page! 🙂
      Best, ThatKellieGirl

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