Emily and Morgan constructing Michi Zeebee at The Apprenticeshop

What is Carrier Pigeon Studio?

Carrier Pigeon is a project-based art and design studio. We specialize in physical, geographical explorations of contemporary issues that revolve around making and journeying. We believe in slow design, public art, deep-dive journalism, and the combination of personal narrative with academic research to highlight pressing contemporary issues. We believe that these issues need to be examined through many lenses (art, science, writing, travel) in order to be more fully understood. We exist under the umbrella of the Solon Center for Research & Publishing, a 501c3 nonprofit that fosters literary and artistic communities in Maine and beyond through publications, research, onsite projects and workshops.

Who’s behind Carrier Pigeon?

Emily Cornell du Houx currently teaches at the Rhode Island School for Design (RISD) in the Furniture Design, Jewelry + Metalsmithing, and Textiles departments. She received her MFA from RISD in Sculpture and her BA from Amherst College in English. She is an ACP Grant recipient and was recently nominated for Boston St. Boltoph’s Award and a Pushcart Prize. She has illustrated over fifteen books and exhibited her artwork in many venues, including Rooster Gallery in New York. Her studio practice incorporates many mediums, from photography to writing, but it all focuses on the shifting landscape and our place in it. She has worked as an editor and co-director at the nonprofit publisher Polar Bear & Company for over ten years. She is an avid swimmer and boater and grew up on a river, where she developed a deep personal understanding of the ways that communities are shaped by bodies of water.

Morgan Rogers is a communications specialist and journalist with a passion for storytelling, environmental policy, and program development. For the past five years she has helped many organizations tell their story and get communities involved with their mission. It was during her time working at the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators that Morgan became interested in the Mississippi River, its history and its culture, as she worked on water pollution legislation with local elected officials along the river. Morgan has traveled extensively across Europe, the Middle East, and South America, researching and writing about the intersection of art, environmental sustainability, and community.

Emily and Morgan have not lived on the Mississippi River, though they both grew up on rivers. Morgan spent her summers on the Kern and Emily on the Kennebec; their relationship to these rivers—one on the East Coast and the other on the West deeply shaped the way they understand the natural world and themselves. These experiences sparked an interest in America’s great River, the Mississippi.

About the Mississippi River Project

We were awarded a grant from the Rhode Island School of Design and raised funds through a kickstarter campaign to build a boat that will travel down the length of the Mississippi and become a floating, multimedia portrait of the river. We believe that to truly understand the narrative of a river and how it is connected to the communities along its banks you must travel it. The boat will act as a storytelling tool as well as a story-gathering tool when people experience it, walk through it, and see it pass by on the river.

The watercraft (named Michi Zeebee), which is a combination of the shanty boat, the river raft, and the Mississippi showboat, was built by us at The Apprenticeshop last summer and will launch on the Mississippi River this summer (2017).

In total, we will spend three months on the water. Public art events and community forums will be held up and down the river to gather and share stories. The voyage will end in mid September with an exhibition and musical event at Treo, a New Orleans gallery, performance venue, and bar. The boat will then be brought back to Maine for more events and to continue the story.

The project is in partnership with the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, The ApprenticeshopTreo, The UrbanArt Commission, and the Dubuque Museum of Art.