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Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church

1300 E Valley Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93108, USA
| +1 805-969-6868
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Syncretism in a California Church Santa Barbara California United States

Syncretism in a California Church

I remember discussing Native American agency and architectural syncretism in my Art of New Spain art history class, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the concept alive in this small California church. The plain adobe-like exterior doesn't prepare the visitor for the contrast of the colorful interior, which features many details that are not found in traditional Catholic churches, but that reflect the Native American culture that predated the Spanish missionaries. Examples are the metal frames for the paintings, the rich colors that look like they've been mixed from local plants, the physical appearances of the figures depicted, and the distinctly Native American geometric designs. The church's courtyard is also worth a visit, as it will make you feel like you're sitting in a distant part of Mexico.