East City Interviews: Sharon Burton, Co-Organizer of “Savoring the Art of Peace”

A unique fundraiser highlighting the role of art in creating peace takes place this Thursday, September 9th  in the Atlas Arts District.  Savoring the Art of Peace, a wine tasting featuring the art of Nadia Janjua, benefits Empowered Women International and Peace x Peace.  We talked with Sharon Burton, one of the event’s organizers, to learn more about the featured artist and the role art can play in improving womens’ lives.  [Editor’s Note:  East City Art is also a co-sponsor of the event.]

“Jungle Fever”, Nadia Janjua

Sharon Burton, owner of Authentic Contemporary Art, is no stranger to our regular readers. Her company, Authentic Contemporary Art, regularly holds curated-exhibitions in the DC area which often highlight the work of area women artists.  The entrepreneurial spirit runs in the family; Sharon’s twin sister Sherry Ways runs Kreative Ways and Solutions, a local design firm.  Both women feel strongly about programs designed to empower women, and they each hold a leadership positions at the fundraiser’s beneficiaries.    Thus the idea for a local fundraiser was born.  The event’s timing is no accident.  On the eve of our September 11th remembrance, the fundraiser underscores the work of women in creating peaceful dialogue globally.

Savoring the Art of Peace is multifaceted event.  Wine tasting is a featured part of the evening thanks to Sova, our neighborhood evening wine bar.  The event also hosts a book signing by author and peace activist Patricia Smith Melton and concert by musical guest Lea.  Local artist Nadia Janjua will also be highlighted, and she has donated a piece to be used in a silent auction during the evening.

The event’s beneficiaries both work to raise womens’  voices in the peace movement on a global level.  One way that can occur is through empowering womens’ artistic voices.  Burton believes the arts is the one unifying element that can bring people together, no matter what their age, income, color, or ethnic background and can be the catalyst for social and political movements.  An example she cited was the use of art in the last presidential election, such as Shepard Fairey’s Hope poster which quickly rocketed to iconic status during the campaign.  Closer to home, she noted that the arts have played a role in the both the economic and social revitalization of inner cities (something we can certainly attest to along the H Street, NE corridor).

“Resuscitation”, Nadia Janjua

Both beneficiaries seek to harness this transformative power of art in different ways through sustaining and uplifting women economically by leveraging their creative assets and elevating their voices in the call to peace around the world.  Nadia Janjua is a recent graduate of E.W.I.’s entrepreneur training program.  When asked how Janjua was chosen to participate, Burton described how her nuanced use of color, texture and subject matter has universal appeal.  Burton also noted that Janjua’s background (she is of Kashmiri-Pakistani descent) gives her artwork another level of uniqueness.

In closing, we asked Burton why this event deserves community support.  Her reply was eloquent:  “What we are doing with Savoring the Art of Peace is conveying that women can and do contribute to peaceful and economic stability, in this area and across the globe.  By focusing on the arts, including musical performance by LEA and Nadia’s artwork, we hope to send a strong message to underscore that fact.”

We encourage everyone to visit:

to receive more information about the event, the artwork, music and beneficiaries as well as to register for the event.

We also encourage everyone to visit the websites of both of the beneficiaries of this event including Empowered Women International at and Peace X Peace at




Eric Hope
Authored by: Eric Hope

Eric Hope is a curator and writer based in Brookland. He moved to Washington DC in 1997 and a twist of fate found him a volunteer marketing job at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. In 2009, after ten years of marketing work at large museums in DC he moved into the realm of curating, staging a variety of solo, duo and small-group shows for the Evolve Urban Arts Project. He currently freelances as a curator and writes about local artists and the DC arts scene for a variety of online publications. Originally from Missouri, Hope holds degrees in International Relations and Public Service Administration from DePaul University in Chicago.