Photographer Without Legs Returns Stares

Often, when people see someone who looks different or strange, they stare. Maybe they do it out of the corner of their eye, maybe they gawk, and maybe they get nervous and immediately avert their gaze. People stare, trying to figure out how the object came to be that way.

Kevin Connolly has been getting such stares all his life. That's because he was born without legs.

Connolly was used to drawing double takes in his hometown of Helena, Mont., but when he went to Europe and turned heads there, too, he decided he'd had enough. Connolly got out his camera in Vienna, Austria, and turned it on the people who were staring at him.

"I knew this guy was walking past and staring at me," he says. "I had been getting that sort of attention for weeks — and of course the past 21-odd years as well — but took the photo kind of on a reflex, not thinking about it," Connolly says. "Finding the picture to be really aesthetically pleasing kind of made me pursue the project a bit more."

Connolly began traveling around the world, taking photographs of people looking at him. The stare turned out to be universal, but people in each place had different ideas about why he has no legs. Connolly was seen as a beggar in Vienna, a victim of thalidomide in New Zealand, a holy man in Ukraine, a victim of the Balkan war in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and an Iraq war veteran back in Montana.

He has collected his photographs in a show he calls "The Rolling Exhibition."

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