Artist Kam Redlawsk illustrates moments from her life, primarily thoughts on living with a rare, debilitating, degenerative muscle wasting disorder known as GNEM. GNEM took over her body at the age of 20. (*GNEM formerly known as HIBM; Hereditary Inclusion Body Myopathy).
Born an orphan in South Korea, it wouldn't be until 19 years later that she would learn she had a rare genetic condition known as an "orphan disease". She went from kicking soccer balls and running to making use of canes, leg braces and now a full-time wheelchair. This disease keeps going until it seizes every ounce of her body. She is one of millions that have an orphan disease, but one of three thousand worldwide who have GNEM.
Kam was trained as an Automotive Industrial Designer at Detroit's College for Creative Studies. Since, she has expanded her design repertoire to product design, creative branding and art direction, graphic design and now illustration. She has designed an array of products ranging from cell phones, toys, electronics, and even contributed to the world's cheapest prosthetic knee joint for third world countries. She is a published KoreAm Journal columnist, public advocate and a multi-award winning designer and artist.
Kam is a self-taught illustrator. She wanted to visually articulate her personal experiences with GNEM and what it is like to live with a debilitating condition that doesn't stop. Sometimes an image can describe what words cannot.
Through old journal excerpts, writing, video journal and design she attempts to give an honest portrayal of her every day struggles, triumphs and journey. From the funny, the good, the bad, the migration of her weakness, to being a designer, to a constantly forming perspective and a spirit that only grows despite her deteriorating body. Most of all she hopes those who have disabilities and struggles will see they can still live life and live it big.
So, how do you live when you know one day you'll potentially be immobile?
You travel. You love. You Create. You Yearn. You Believe.
Kam's story was on the front page of LA Times Sunday paper in June of 2017. To learn more about Kam read LA Times Feature on her life.