Sites of the spirit and devotion, sites of genocide, foreboding actors in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, the subject of fourth-grade school projects, the Spanish Missions of Alta California are complex sites of inquiry, their meanings and associations different for each visitor. This seminar examines the art and architecture of the California Missions built between 1769 and 1823. Constructed with local materials and decorated with reredos, paintings and sculptures from Mexico and Spain, the Missions are at once humble spaces and flagships of a belated global baroque. They were also the laboratories of indigenous artists and artisans. This course seeks to understand how Mission art was meant to function, how and why it was made, what its materials were, while asking what the larger role of art was in a global system of missions. Can the study of this art lead to the reconciliation of populations in North America and within the field of art history? The Missions require a specific reexamination of the relationship between European and colonial forms, not as objects of curiosity or diffusion but as viable and globally informed agents.