Renowned Photographer Nancy Lensen-Tomasson to Exhibit Photos at Balfour Palisades

Photographer Nancy Lensen-Tomasson has been interested in photos ever since she was a child. The 91-year-old recalled using a box camera as a youth, taking art lessons in high school and eventually majoring in art and art history at Wellesley, where she graduated in 1953.

Her first job was at former publisher D.C. Heath and Company, where she learned graphic design and book design, as well as typography. She later worked in Boston and eventually New York, where she spent time at McGraw Hill.

Lensen-Tomasson eventually married and worked part-time in Stockholm, Sweden. Since she married who she called “an academic,” she soon found herself living in Champaign-Urbana where she worked as a book designer for the University of Illinois press and was a teaching assistant in the design department there.

“All of that before I became a photographer!” she said. While in New York, Lensen-Tomasson took photography courses in the evenings with Alexey Brodovitch, who was art director for Harper’s Bazaar from 1934 to 1958.

She eventually moved to New Mexico where her husband got a teaching job and by 1968, she decided to go back to school to get a graduate degree at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque to teach photography.

“I’ve always been interested in people and environments,” she said. “None of my work is abstract.” Her inspiration shows in her 2021 photography book “Women of the Ivory Coast and Mali: Photographs of a Heritage.”

Her photos from the book were on display last summer at the Bronx River Art Museum in New York. The series of 22 silver print, black-and-white photos of women of the Ivory Coast and Mali are from 1989-1992. Lensen-Tomasson captured the women engaging in day-to-day tasks like washing their clothes, cooking and dancing. After decades of war, terrorist occupations and the like, the photos are a stark reminder of cultures that may be unrecognizable, or perhaps gone forever.

Lensen-Tomasson, who lives in the D.C. area, had been wanting to downsize from the home she inherited from her parents. She now has a spot reserved in Balfour Palisades, the new senior living community coming to the area next year. When she met Cynthia McKee, director of pre-leasing for the community, Lensen-Tomasson showed her examples from the exhibit at the Bronx River Art Museum. Soon, McKee proposed showing the photos as part of a program with Balfour.

Lensen-Tomasson’s photography will be on display March 8 to 22, noon to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday at the Balfour Palisades Leasing Center at 4418 MacArthur Blvd. NW. Lensen-Tomasson will be appearing at a Meet the Author Book Signing and Event Saturday March, 11 12:30 to 2 p.m., with books available for purchase.

 More information on leasing with Balfour can be found by emailing or 202-935-5250.


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