5 Questions About Classic Photography & Public Art With Samantha Creightney

Samantha Creightney works mostly as the Operations Coordinator for Bright Endeavors, but she also shares her passion for visual art both in and outside of the workplace. When she is not assisting with scheduling production of candles, tracking inventory, and giving her photography and design advice, she works to curate her late father’s photography in collaboration with her mother Maxine and sister Vanessa. The family team has already made strides in publicly sharing professional photographer Dorrell Creightney’s work with the Austin community located on the West Side of Chicago (also the neighborhood where our parent nonprofit, New Moms is located). These art exhibitions not only honor her father’s legacy but also make the point that public art is important for the pride of a community.

1.) Can you tell us a little about your late father’s career as a photographer? What were the subjects of his photographs?

Dorrell Creightney was inspired while working as a window dresser at a south suburban department store. He would check out the latest in fashion magazines like Harpers Bazaar to get his ideas. In the late 1960’s my parents met, married and moved to Europe. My father started his photography business in Stockholm, Sweden, where he photographed Diana Ross and the Supremes, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. He and my mother came back to Chicago in 1970, his photography career flourished. Dorrell Creightney Photography was one of the first black-owned commercial photography business in Chicago. He had worked with Ebony, Jet magazines, and Burrell Advertising.


Photos by Dorrell Creightney

2.)  What are some of your favorite photographs from your father and why?

The Jazz collection of images especially the John Coltrane series. John Coltrane was open to the photographers to “get up close and personal”. Every time I look at that series I feel transported to that moment. Moved.

3.) What are some of the current projects with the photographs and what do you hope people will take away from the exhibits?

Dorrell Creightney Photography is currently at the CTA Green Line stations Central and Austin. At Laramie and Kinzie at the viaduct, and the corner of Chicago & Cicero. The take away that we hope people get is from the positive images, is seeing people of color “Happy”.

Photo credit: Alexa Rogals for Austin Weekly News

4.)  What are some future hopes and goals for the photography? In addition, what hopes you have for public art in Chicago, in particular in the Austin community?

Right now we are still organizing the collection, that in itself is a job. Plus we would like to have an exhibit for a larger audience in Chicago.  The Austin community has changed since we moved here 15 years ago.  I would like to see the Austin Community represented in the culture of Public Art in Chicago.

Photos by Dorrell Creightney

5.)  How do you think art can impact a community?

Public art can reflect the culture of the community. That can mean a lot of pride for a community member seeing positive images. Just look at Pilsen and the murals of that community, some are historical in the fact of the artist who painted it or the historical moment in time.  Pilsen has pride in their culture, in turn, is Chicago culture.

6.) It is clear that your father’s creativity was passed to you, what are some of your hopes for your own art?

My father was my mentor in photography. As I grew as a photographer, I wanted to explore other disciplines in art. My part of Creightney Photography is curating image selection, that I collaborate with my family is another creative extension. I enjoy being creative and the process of making, creating and building is always evolving.

7.) Who are some of your favorite Chicago artists who are also investing in their communities?

Karen Ami, founder of the Chicago Mosaic School was a mentor and major influence on my creativity. Theaster Gates, I think his vision for an artist community on the south-side is transforming.


Thank you, Samantha for answering our 7, not 5 questions! We appreciate you sharing your story with us and are eager to see more photos throughout the city. If you’re interested to purchase a print or want to learn more information about the project, please inquire at samantha[at]creightneyphoto.com

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