Beyond Vassar

Bringing Drama into Focus: Dixie Sheridan '65

By Elizabeth Randolph

"Every photographer, writer, poet, artist, journalist wonders: Is my work worth saving and if so, by whom and where and why?” says Dixie Sheridan ’65. The New York City–based photographer has documented Off- and Off-Off Broadway theater productions for more than 14 years and continues to do so. Imagine her delight when the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, at Lincoln Center, agreed to acquire her collection of photographs and preserve it for posterity.

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Announcing the acquisition, officials at the library acknowledged, “Dixie Sheridan’s photographs fill a vital gap in the documentation of New York theater history” and praised the photographer for her “unique relationships with her subjects” and her “talent for capturing the theatrical moment.” The Sheridan photograph collection will exist alongside the archives of such noted theatrical personalities as Katharine Hepburn, Lillian Gish, Katharine Cornell, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Edward Albee and will continue to grow as Sheridan clicks her way from production to production.

Sheridan’s photographs have been widely published in newspapers and magazines, including the Vassar Quarterly—she was one of nine photographers to document the campus for the “Day in the Life of Vassar” issue (Spring/Summer 2010). Sheridan is vice president emeritus for College Relations and spent more than 23 years as a Vassar administrator, working in such roles as editor of the Vassar Quarterly.

Sheridan—who has since photographed productions, large and small, starring the likes of Amy Irving, Justin Bond, Julianna Margulies, Frances McDormand, Martha Plimpton, Everett Quinton, David Strathairn, and Uma Thurman—says she never planned a career as a theater photographer. “My decision was a surprise to me,” she says. “I have two degrees in drama, and photography became important to me along the way.” In 1997, there was a moment when the two passions came together and Sheridan decided to take a chance on photography because it gave her a chance to live and work in New York City. Now her documentation of the ephemeral world of the dramatic arts will ensure that generations to come can look back on the vibrant theatrical productions of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Visit Sheridan's website.