Standing in the middle of a forest of black and white animals and stars that seemed to flow endlessly into each other stood a woman on a stepladder with nothing but a sharpie in hand.

Miki Yokoyama in front of her largest art piece at the Curve Line Space Gallery on September 13, 2014. (Ryan Kevin/Courier)

Miki Yokoyama was putting the finishing touches on a final piece an hour before the gallery opened to reveal her work to the world for the first time. The gallery opened to a slow reception. Yokoyama’s husband and their two children were among the first to arrive but in almost no time the gallery filled up to capacity.

Yokoyama has had no formal training in art whatsoever but that has not held her back. Her very first art gallery show opened this past Saturday at Curve Line Space in Eagle Rock and it will host Yokoyama’s work until Oct. 4.

“For her work to be that mature, conceptually, is what caught me,” said Tim Yalda, the gallery owner.

Yokoyama developed her own style over the years. To depict how she views the cycle of life she draws hundreds of tiny and intricate lines woven into animals and the world around them with no apparent separation between the two. Each piece takes Yokoyama roughly 30 hours to complete. She doesn’t title any of them because they are all a part of her universe.

“It’s all from within her,” said Steve Nguyen. “That’s part of the reason it connects with me. It’s not part of any movement. It’s very direct.”

Yokoyama had a revelation about the miniscule scale on which life is based in comparison to time and the universe and she felt a dire need to create something that would last longer than she will.

“Four years ago, I had a really strong feeling that everything in this world will die. Everything is not forever,” Yokoyama said, “I felt that I had to do something. I had to create something.”

In one of Yokoyama’s pieces, she depicts a woman seemingly face down on the ground with hundreds of tendrils flowing out of her hair that grow into trees in some places and animals in others. There are even a couple of buildings amid the myriad of life illustrated.

She feels that death is not something to be feared but embraced and that no one truly dies but rather re-enters the cycle of life.

“If I die, maybe a tree may begin to grow from my arm,” she said, “People see death as a horrible thing. It’s not. It is the cycle of life. It’s beautiful.”

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