Los Angeles artist and industrial designer Kam Redlawsk illustrates moments from her life — primarily thoughts on living with an extremely rare and degenerative muscle wasting disorder known as GNE Myopathy ((formerly known as HIBM). GNEM began taking over Kam's body at the age of 20, but in hindsight symptoms began much earlier.
Born an orphan in Daegu, South Korea, Kam would learn 19 years later she had a rare genetic condition known as an orphan disease. Adopted to a Michigan family at 4 years old, Kam went from a childhood of kicking soccer balls and running with her brothers to making use of canes and leg braces in her early twenties, and today a full-time wheelchair. This condition moves throughout her body until it seizes every muscle, leading her to a potential future of complete quadriplegia. She is one of millions that have an orphan disease, but one of three thousand worldwide who have GNEM.
Kam is a published KoreAm Journal columnist, public advocate and a multi-award winning designer and artist.
Kam majored in Automotive Industrial Design program at Detroit's College for Creative Studies. Since, she has expanded her design repertoire to non-profit, product design, creative branding, graphic design, art direction, advocacy and now illustration. She has designed an array of products ranging from cell phones, toys, electronics, This Bar Saves Lives and even helped design Re-emotion; the world's cheapest prosthetic knee joint for third world countries. Re-motion will be a part of a Smithsonian Museum curated exhibition, “Design with the Other 90%” in September of 2018 at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Kam is a self-taught illustrator. Out of the necessity to be understood, she began visually articulating her personal experiences with GNE Myopathy, portraying what it is like to live with a debilitating condition that doesn't stop. Sometimes an image can describe what words cannot.
Kam shares an array of personal stories about her life in hopes they will resonate with those viewing them—the things that sometimes hurt us, challenge us, frighten us, make us laugh, make us brave or weak and make us cry. She believes we are more similar than different and you don’t need a disability to relate to emotions of struggle, loss, sadness, perspective, journey and resilience.
Through old journal excerpts, writing, art, video journal, Bike for Kam and her work with nonprofits, Kam has been dedicated to advocacy for her condition and disability for the past ten years. 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 an artist, 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 with passion and purpose.