It’s said that art transcends boundaries, and the work of Iranian-born artist Shirin Barghi is proof of that adage. After learning about the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown last year, the New York City-based artist was inspired to illustrate the slain men’s last words as a way of educating others—and herself—about their murders. Using the hashtag #LastWords, the simple black and white drawings went viral, popping up on feeds around the world. Today, the project includes 15 images, which immortalize the last words of Black men and boys who were killed by police or those who claimed to be acting on their behalf, including Trayvon Martin (“What are you following me for?”) and Samuel DuBose (“I didn’t even do nothing.”).
“It drew a connection for me. I didn’t expect this project to continue, or take off the way it did. Seeing these two incidents side-by-side helped me realized this was an ongoing phenomenon in America,” Barghi told Mic. When asked about her goal for the project, she said, “I guess I would like people to educate themselves and really look into these people’s stories. Because it did make me do that. And I hope people use this to learn what police violence in the U.S. really looks like.”
Barghi has also created a series of images that show the last words men heard before being killed by police. The colors are inverted, to show black drawings on a white background.
Click here to see all the images in the #LastWords project.