• arts and pop

Arts & Pop Culture Speakers

What’s new, right now, changes every minute. We keep track of the movers and shakers of the here-and-now and wrangle together the arts and pop culture speakers with the most persuasive, interesting things to say.

 

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Chuck Klosterman

Renowned Cultural Critic | Author of Ten Books, Including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

Pop culture, in all its distracting glitz, isn’t just entertainment. It is culture—American culture. And our most insightful guide is Chuck Klosterman. In his bestselling, culture-defining books, he’s...

Patti Smith

Punk Rock Legend and Author of Just Kids, winner of The National Book Award

Named one of the most influential people in the world in TIME Magazine’s TIME 100, Patti Smith is a poet, singer, songwriter, photographer, and fine artist. A seminal American artist, Smith has produc...

Candy Chang

Urban Space Artist Behind the "Before I Die" Walls

World-renowned artist and urban designer Candy Chang engages communities to share everything from their greatest hopes to their deepest anxieties in public. The Atlantic calls her artwork Before I Die

Sir Salman Rushdie

One of the Most Celebrated Writers of Our Time

Sir Salman Rushdie is one of the most celebrated authors of our time—of any time. A brilliant provocateur, he’s penned a handful of classic novels, influenced a generation of writers, and received a Q...

Spike Lee

Award-Winning Director of Do the Right Thing, When the Levees Broke, and BlacKkKlansman

Spike Lee needs no introduction. In person, the provocateur and media icon is never at a loss for words. As one of the most outspoken African American voices, he talks candidly, and with authority, ab...

Angie Thomas

Author of the Black Lives Matter-Inspired YA Novel The Hate U Give, an Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller and Now a Major Motion Picture

Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give—widely known as the first Black Lives Matter-inspired YA novel—has been a #1 New York Times bestseller for 70 weeks. Described as “the best—and most important—book of the...

Colm Feore

One of Canada’s Best Actors

One of Canada’s best actors, Colm Feore is known for his iconic roles in theatre, television, and film. Ranging from Shakespearian leads to unforgettable portrayals of Canadian legends to roles in maj...

Rick Mercer

Host of The Rick Mercer Report for 15 years

Rick Mercer chronicles, satirizes, and ultimately celebrates all that is great and irreverent about this country. Known as “Canada’s Unofficial Opposition,” Mercer is our most popular comic, a politic...

Mira Nair

Director of Queen of Katwe, Salaam Bombay!, The Namesake, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Raised in India, schooled at Harvard, and living in New York City, Mira Nair uses her natural grasp of identity conflict to make films that explore race, gender, inter-generational strife, cultural ap...

Kal Penn

Actor | Former Associate Director at the White House Office of Public Engagement

Called “the world’s most famous Indian actor” by New York Magazine, Kal Penn is a rising Hollywood star. But what sets him apart is his off-screen eloquence, his passion for the intersection of pop cu...

Lynda Obst

One of Hollywood’s Most Successful Film and Television Producers

More times than she can count, Lynda Obst has been the only high-ranking woman in the room. The Hollywood super-producer behind a string of hits—including Flashdance, Sleepless in Seattle, and Interst...

Vijay (Robert) Gupta

Founder of Street Symphony, TED Senior Fellow, and Mental Health Advocate

Vijay Gupta is a violinist whose interest in neurobiology and mental health issues has made him a world-renowned advocate for the regenerative power of music. A TED Senior Fellow, Gupta founded Street...

Margaret Atwood

Booker Prize-Winning Author of over Fifty Books, Including The Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace

Margaret Atwood has long been a literary titan, but “current events have polished the oracular sheen of her reputation,” says The New Yorker. With her 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale back on the bestse...

Titus Kaphar

Award-Winning Painter and Sculptor

With more urgency than a headline, Titus Kaphar’s artworks capture the spirit of social justice and change in America today (exemplified in his TIME cover portrait of the Ferguson protests). Working f...

Gabby Rivera

Author of the New Marvel Comic Series America and Juliet Takes a Breath

Gabby Rivera is an outgoing, outspoken creator invested in fostering better dialogue, inspiring radical creativity, and improving our most vulnerable communities. The author of Juliet Takes a Breath, ...

David Eagleman

One of the World’s Foremost Neuroscientists | Host of PBS’s The Brain | Scientific Advisor for HBO’s Westworld this is the science description this is the neuroscience description

How can we harness the brain for maximum creativity—at work, and school? In The Runaway Species, David Eagleman—“the hottest thing in neuroscience” (The Times)—reveals how any organization can adopt a...

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Photographer speaking on family, communities, and environmental racism

For LaToya Ruby Frazier, art is a weapon—a catalyst for social justice. Her photographs and videos document today’s America: post-industrial cities riven by poverty, racism, healthcare inequality, and...

Jeff Chang

Social Historian | Author of We Gon’ Be Alright and Can't Stop Won't Stop | VP of Narrative, Arts, and Culture at Race Forward

“Culture moves before politics,” says Jeff Chang, who writes on art, multiculturalism, and racial progress in post-civil rights America with the sweeping authority of the best social historians. In hi...

Shalini Kantayya

Award-Winning Filmmaker | Eco-Activist | TED Fellow

Clean tech has to start locally. And it has to happen now. Filmmaker and eco-activist Shalini Kantayya shows us that sustainable energy isn’t just right for the environment, but also promises untold e...

Lev Grossman

#1 NYT Bestselling Author of The Magicians Trilogy and Former Time Book Critic

Lev Grossman is “one of this country’s smartest and most reliable critics,” says The New York Times, but—and this is rare—he’s also a popular novelist. His #1 bestselling Magicians trilogy has transfo...

Alan Lightman

Theoretical Physicist and Novelist

Both a theoretical physicist and a novelist, Alan Lightman bridges the gap between the worlds of art, the humanities, and science, and is an internationally recognized thinker on the meaning of scienc...

Isabel Allende

Author of The House of the Spirits and In the Midst of Winter

A literary legend, a social activist, and a feminist icon, Isabel Allende—now in the fourth decade of a career like no other—has sold over 50 million books in over 30 languages. The massive audiences ...

Teju Cole

Award-Winning Author of Open City, Blind Spot, and Photography Critic for NYT Magazine

A prodigious novelist, critic, and photographer, Teju Cole was born in the US and raised in Nigeria—a biographical fact that informs much of his work. His first novel, Open City, won the PEN/Hemingway...

Molly Crabapple

Painter, Writer, and Author of Drawing Blood

Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer whose work has been described as “God’s own circus posters,” by Rolling Stone. Crabapple’s art engages injustice, subversiveness, and rebellion. The New York Ti...

Naomi Natale

TED Senior Fellow and Artistic Director of The Art of Revolution

Artist and photographer Naomi Natale is the founding artist behind One Million Bones—a large-scale social arts practice that fuses education and hands-on artmaking to raise awareness of genocide—and t...

Christine Sun Kim

TED Senior Fellow, Sound Artist, and Composer

Christine Sun Kim uses the medium of sound in performance and drawing to investigate her relationship with spoken languages and her aural environment. Born deaf, Kim felt that she had no “ownership” o...

James Patterson

One of the Best-selling Authors in the World Today

In January, 2010, The New York Times Magazine featured James Patterson on its cover and hailed him as having “transformed book publishing.” Time magazine named him “The Man Who Can't Miss,” and he is ...

Gabriel Barcia-Colombo

New Media Artist | TED Senior Fellow

How is technology reshaping our relationship to time, memory—even death? Gabriel Barcia-Colombo’s interactive artworks ask bold questions about what it means to live, and die, in today’s frenetic worl...