As a child, I was carted twice a week across Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range: from Hibbing to Virginia, Hibbing to Buhl and back. We drove past Ironworld, the Iron Man statue, the Mahoning pit, the Bruce Mine headframe, and piles and piles of overburden. This was and is the landscape that Iron Rangers (including my immigrant family) created and have inhabited for over 100 years. My mother or father or grandmother transported me over and around this transformed terrain to learn to play the violin - in Virginia, in Buhl. Then we drove home to Hibbing, ‘the town that moved’ for ore excavation.

After I learned to play the violin, I left the area for decades - but when I returned, I visited pit mines: numerous abandoned cavities in the earth that had filled with spring water and rainwater. The deep orange ore and multitude of blues felt like home. But having moved away at the age of 14, I never much considered the history, future, or complexity of the region.

Now, I am embarking on a long-term project: to mine sounds from my childhood landscape and combine them with the violin I learned to play along this very same route. What will I learn about this altered piece of earth? It’s people? About myself?

MINE SONGS is a project by Sara Pajunen. @MineSongsMusic #MineSongsMusic