FOUND OBJECTS is a story of loss and inspiration and a search for self, told from the perspective of Claire Randall, shadow box artist and wife and mother of three. The journey begins the morning after Claire’s family’s home has burned down.
Set in fictional Filbert Grove, Oregon, present-day, the central storyline follows Claire, a shadow box artist and wife and mother of three. Just prior to a fire that takes her family’s home, Claire has told her husband, Jack, she plans to leave him. Following the fire, Claire struggles with whether or not to carry out her plans. After taking up what she thinks will be a temporary residence in a motel, Claire soon discovers the benefits of her new life. Free of her domestic duties, she is able to pursue her creative compulsion: shadow boxes made from found objects she discovers on walks in the country near her house (before the fire) and junk and antique shops (after the fire).
FOUND OBJECTS is about Claire’s journey to reinvent herself as a mother, as an artist, and as a woman. It’s about creative women’s compulsion to make art and their struggle to do so in the domestic sphere. It’s about gender, gender roles, the institutions of marriage and motherhood, and most importantly, it’s about the necessity to create for the sake of one’s personal authenticity, spiritual serenity, and sanity.
Leading us through the narrative in FOUND OBJECTS is Claire’s search for objects to create her art. These objects (the ephemera of life), the search for them, and the act of assembling them in confined spaces (boxes) is the central metaphor for Claire’s act of sorting through the rubble of her previously unquestioned life, finding pieces that fit and pieces that do not. The house fire represents the symbolic disintegration of the nuclear family as a system that confines and restricts as well as the burning away, purging, of Claire’s old life and self, leaving way for the reinvention, from the ground up, so to speak, of a new and more meaningful life.
FOUND OBJECTS asks us to examine how the traditional nuclear family and traditional daily models of living affect our personal development, our psyches, and our spirits. It also asks us to examine and honor the importance of art, the creative process, and women’s work, whatever form it takes. Above all, it speaks to the necessity of self love and following one’s passion to live a fully-realized life.
Read the short story, “What I Want,” from which the film was adapted.