When local artist Andrew Sabori visited Ellis Island to find out more information about his ancestors, his encounter with a small photo of a mural would change his life.
"It peaked my interest. I had never heard about that mural in Ellis Island. No one had ever seen it. No one ever knew it existed," Sabori said.
A major part of the mural, "The Role of the Immigrant in the Industrial Development of America"originally painted by Edward Laning, had been destroyed in the early 1950s by a storm. Sabori decided to reproduce the original mural after realizing its historical significance.
"This was the mural our ancestors saw when they got off the boat," Sabori said.
His work, "The Lost Mural," will be displayed at the National Archives at Atlanta in Morrow, Ga. on July 20. Thirty portraits of famous immigrants, including many famous entertainers, painted by Sabori will also be on display.
As part of the "Coming to America: the Immigrant Experience" exhibit, prominent Atlanta residents will tell their stores about the significance of coming to America and there will be a naturalization ceremony for immigrants.
Although the program is by invitation only, residents can visit the exhibit gallery that displays the mural, portraits and historic immigration documents from July 21 to Dec. 31.
The Works Project Administration under President Franklin D. Roosevelt commissioned Laning in 1938 to paint the mural at Aliens Hall on Ellis Island.
The mural depicts "the building of America by our ancestors," Sabori said.
Because not many pieces of the original mural remained, it took Sabori almost nine months to get access photos of it. He trekked to Princeton, Juilliard, the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress, eventually finding out the title and the artist who painted the mural along with black and white photos of it.
Sabori worked on the mural during his spare time after moving to Las Vegas to complete private commissions. Art students from Pahrump Valley High School and the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy assisted with painting the background of the mural. The 90-foot wide, 5-foot high mural was thus titled "The Lost Mural," and took about eight months to finish.
While recreating the mural's design was not difficult, adapting to Laning's style challenged Sabori.
"My style was totally different from Laning. To stay into his style and not interject with mine, was difficult," he said.
"The Lost Mural" has been displayed in museums and historical societies in Nevada and Utah.
He hopes "to remind the younger generation that all of us, including all religions and nationalities, work together to build America."
The mural is planned to be on display at the National Archives at New York City after December. Sabori hopes to take it to Boston, Washington D.C. and, if possible, to Europe.