Vanessa Stokes, photographer, found a treasure trove of images of her father with which she now improves the neighborhood so that people do not continue to abandon him.

The Austin Village neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, is commonly known as a dangerous and abandoned neighborhood. But while some residents try to get away from the neighborhood, others want to return it to their glory years.

Among them is Vanessa Stokes, a professional photographer, who a few years ago discovered a treasure trove of images in her mother's house and since then, she has proposed to share it with the world.

Stokes' father, Dorrell Creightney, was a renowned photographer from the 1960s to the 1980s. And while his most popular images were of fashion, music and commercials, Creightney — to which his image archive demonstrates — enjoyed taking photos of people's daily lives.

Creightney was originally from Jamaica and emigrated with his family to the United States in 1954 when he was 18 years old. In 1969 the photographer opened his commercial photography studio, making him the first owner of a color studio in the city of Chicago.

Images of the photographer, deceased, Dorrell Creightney. (Supplied)

After many years of work and after a short battle against cancer, Creightney passed away in 2011.

However, Stokes collected the thousands of photos that his father took and were about to be forgotten. There are so many that it is estimated that they could reach half a million images.

"When I went to visit my family I saw the photos and I thought there should be a way to revive them," Vanessa said in an interview with La Opinión.

She wanted her father's legacy to be shared with people.

The images show from the streets of Chicago to the culture of African Americans through jazz legends. But there are also several photos as simple but detailed as children playing in the street, women chatting or couples hugging.

Vanessa Stokes has revived the images of the sixties and seventies that were taken by her father, photographer Dorrell Creightney. (Supplied)

In 2016 Stokes applied for a grant with the Department of Cultural Services of the Windy City and once it was approved he decided to convert some of his father's images into giant public art for people to enjoy.

"It's like an art gallery, the images are installed to activate the places," Stokes said. "Every day people are happy to see a change in the narrative of their neighborhoods."

For the project, 12 images were chosen that were captured in viaducts and the green metro line. This happened in 2017 when the city named this year as the year of public art. The images are installed in 8 x 6 foot frames and continue there indefinitely.

Stokes said she is proud to see her father's work shared publicly since the West Side, where Austin Village is, is being abandoned.

“More than 250 thousand people have left the place because of the bad reputation that the media give them,” said Stokes. "The neighborhood is 90% African-American and people don't participate much in social activities."

The photographer said she is committed to helping preserve her father's legacy by using the images she took many years ago for public benefit. He also hopes to change the negative image that Austin Village has so that its inhabitants no longer have to move to other places and feel proud of their neighborhood.

You can see more images at


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