Alexis Smith and Amy Gerstler's "Past Lives"

Our latest school shooting adds an eerie resonance to Past Lives (1989), now on view at Pepperdine's Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art. A collaboration between Alexis Smith and poet Amy Gerstler, Past Lives fills the Weisman's main, two-story gallery with children's chairs in various states of ruin. A chalkboard, an alphabet, and didactic clocks insist this is a schoolroom. It is a meditation on how children grow up good or bad, and how adults fail them. Clock hands count the minutes to a recess that may be eternal. 
Text panels seem to excerpt report cards, yearbooks, biographies of flawed geniuses, and soundbites about sociopaths who mostly kept to themselves.
Past Lives is part of "Alexis Smith: Private Lives and Public Affairs,"  a survey of early (1980s) collages in which the artist wields kitsch, nostalgia, and found text as blunt instruments.

Below, Smith's My Fair Lady (1985) and some details from Past Lives.