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This feature documentary explores the racially-charged controversy surrounding a 1930's Works Progress Administration mural at the University of Kentucky. It includes a discussion of public art, censorship, and student activism. Interviews with student activists, artists, an art historian, cultural geographer, and media scholar are punctuated by footage of the 2019 mural protest and images from the occupation of the UK administration building by student protestors.
Produced, directed, written, and edited by John Fitch III, Music by Kevin Sparks. Narration by Wendy Barnett.
"Watching Painted in Stone: the Kentucky Mural creates the space for an elevated level of discourse as this documentary peels back layers of nuanced information to get to the core issues and repercussions of racism, not only as it relates to the mural but in our society today. Engaging in this discourse will inevitably lead to understanding, racial healing and transformation."
Patricia Amaral Buskirk, Associate Professor, Media Arts, School of Communications at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and UH Mānoa’s Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center core team
John Fitch's excellent film "Painted in Stone" reveals a central conflict in American race relations. To whites, history is past, to African-Americans, history is ever present. Until white Americans understand that they do not know what it's like to be black in America and seek to at least be open to some insight, there will always be a great divide. Those who helped build the greatest nation on earth by being enslaved, brutalized, terrorized, and marginalized are routinely and even politely asked to "get over it." Fitch's film illustrates that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. And those words can hurt.
Ted Faye, award -winning filmmaker and producer of Netflix documentary, “Iverson.”
"Painted in Stone: The Kentucky Mural is a thought-provoking exploration of a controversy involving racism, censorship, and student activism. This compelling documentary is unique in that it truly airs multiple sides of a real moral debate and compels the viewer to reach their own conclusion. Painted In Stone is an excellent learning tool for students to explore complex issues, and will inspire thoughtful debate wherever it is shown."
Caroline Heldman, Professor of Politics, Occidental CollegeAuthor of "Women, Power, and Politics: The Fight for Gender Equality in the United States"
"One of the most poignant themes in Painted in Stone: The Kentucky Mural is the value of art and whether it supersedes social justice. Yes, an artist’s perspective falls under the umbrella of free speech, but that doesn’t exclude it from public discourse. Through an unbiased lens, the documentary makes it clear that students don’t need art to remind them of the gravity of slavery, nor is it acceptable to whitewash the atrocity in the name of art."
Julie Wilson, Writer and Journalist
"Painted in Stone is a compelling, eye-opening documentary. As a University of Kentucky alumnus, I’m sad to say I was unaware of the ongoing struggle over the Memorial Hall mural, and this film moved me to support the efforts of students fighting for its removal."
Brad Riddell, Associate Professor of Screenwriting and Cinema Production, DePaul University
"Painted in Stone is a masterful excavation of the contested cultural history and contemporary implications of The Kentucky Mural. Fitch's careful archival research combined with incisive interviews with a range of stakeholders, most importantly the students themselves, creates a rich tapestry of its own that helps the viewer to understand the dynamics at work as an artifact, a symbol and a troubled and troubling document of Kentucky heritage."