New collection of video art and documentary by Julia Lesage

We’re excited to announce that we have recently acquired and preserved a collection of tapes by videomaker and University of Oregon professor Julia Lesage. This is our first bilingual collection, with most of the tapes available in both Spanish and English.

Primarily shot in Nicaragua during the 1980s, the majority of the tapes focus on how the Sandinista government brought rapid change to the lives of women in the region. The collection also includes two English-only tapes produced at the University of Oregon in the ’90s about race and disability on the university campus.

The tapes in this collection represent a unique combination of documentary, video art, and advocacy. We’ve put together a trailer with clips from a few of the pieces, ranging from the highly impressionistic “Las Nicas” to the stylistically straightforward yet radical in content “In Plain English.” You can view the trailer below, and we hope that afterwards you’ll dig deeper into this significant body of work.

You can explore the entire collection of videos at or check out descriptions for the individual videos below:
Las Nicas (English, 1982) / Las Nicas (Spanish, 1987)

In 1981 and ’82, Carole Isaacs and Julia Lesage visited Nicaragua and did in-depth interviews with women in the Managua area. The resulting video pairs photographs from those trips with a script based on those interviews where Nicaraguan women speak about the topics of work, sexual politics, religion, family life, children, social participation, and defense. Two versions were produced, one in English and another in Spanish.

Home Life (1984)

This tape was shot in Estelí, a city midway between Managua and the Honduran border whose people acutely felt the impact of U.S. supported contra raids. Videomakers Julia Lesage and Chuck Kleinhans and Seattle-based minister Randall Mullins lived with the people of Esteli for five weeks, and Randall made this tape with the Diaz family to introduce the Nicaraguan family, whose life and love he had shared, to his parish back home. In both Spanish and English.

Postales de Nicaragua Libre/Postcards from Nicaragua (1985)

Lyrical and political views of daily life in Estelí and Managua, Nicaragua, July – September 1984. Footage shot by Chuck Kleinhans. Because the program is mainly visual, you can watch it without understanding Spanish. Segment titles are in both languages.

Lamento (1986)

The mothers of the heroes and martyrs of Estelí talk about their fallen family members, August, 1984. Experimental video made with Sandin Image Processor. In Spanish with English subtitles.

La Escuela (1986)

Lionel Quintanilla from Estelí speaks about his experiences as a poor student and his hopes for his children after the revolution. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Parque Wilfredo Valenzuela (1986)

Olivia Valenzuela describes how the Somozan Army killed her little brother and how the funeral lifted up the village of Estelí. In Spanish with English subtitles.

El Crucero (Spanish, 1987) / El Crucero (English, 1987)

In September 1984, director Julia Lesage visited a coffee plantation with Nicaraguan camerawomen Amina Luna and Miriam Carrero as well as organizers from the ATC, the Nicaraguan salaried farm workers’ union. El Crucero gives an in-depth picture of that farm. The tape is organized in four “movements,” each in a different documentary style, to capture different aspects of life and politics on that farm. The use of different documentary styles provokes a reflection on how the US media convey information about other countries and cultures. Two versions were produced, one in English and another in Spanish.

Mensajeros (Spanish, 1987) / Troubadours (English, 1989)

Troubadours presents a musical performance by the Nicaraguan folk singing group, Camayoc, which means “messenger” in Nahuatl, the language of ancient indigenous people in Central America. Groupo Camayoc taped this performance with Julia Lesage and Chuck Kleinhans outdoors in Estelí, Nicaragua, in September 1987. They play both their own songs and those of Carlos Mejía Godoy and Pablo Milanés. Two versions were produced, one in English and another in Spanish.

In Plain English (1992)

University of Oregon’s students of color discuss what race means in terms of their experiences on and off campus. The video is a procession of talking heads, positioning the students as points of authority while also encouraging the viewer to consider their own expectations and ideas of race.

Getting Around (1995)

Students with disabilities at the University of Oregon discuss their lives. The tape focuses on their everyday experiences, “so as to make aspects of ‘disability’ that are relatively invisible into something distinct, something that could be publicly discussed.”



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