• arts and pop

Arts 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.

 

25
Arts
Speakers
Sort By:
James Ellroy

Acclaimed Author of The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential, American Tabloid, Perfidia, and This Storm

Self-described as the “Demon Dog” of American literature, James Ellroy is best known as the mind behind such legendary books as L.A. Confidential, The Black Dahlia, American Tabloid, and Perfidia. An unmatched raconteur, Ellroy’s talks explore his vision of California noir—in presentations that are bold, reflective, and hilarious. 

 

 
Spike Lee

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

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, about issues of race in mainstream media and Hollywood, using as a backdrop a rare behind-the-scenes look at his celebrated body of work. 
Patti Smith

Punk Rock Legend and Author of Just Kids, winner of The National Book Award | Author of Year of the Monkey (Sept. 2019)

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 produced a body of work whose influence branches out through generations, across disciplines, and around the world.  
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 Queen’s Knighthood for his “services to literature.” He stands as both a pop culture icon and one of the most thought-provoking proponents for free speech today.  
Sarah Lewis

Author of The Rise | Guest-Editor of Aperture’s “Vision & Justice” Issue | Associate Professor At Harvard

When we view race and justice through the lens of culture, we can enlarge our notion of citizenship, of who belongs and who counts. Sarah Lewis, an intellectual star and powerful speaker, has sparked a national conversation with “Vision & Justice”—the landmark issue of Aperture dedicated to photography of the black experience.  
 
Margaret Atwood

Booker Prize-Winning Author of over 50 Books, Including The Handmaid's Tale, and its Highly Anticipated Sequel, The Testaments (Forthcoming)

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 adapted into an eleven-time Emmy Award-winning television series, plus The Testaments, its much-anticipated sequel set for a fall release, Atwood’s sharp eye is more necessary—and prescient—than ever. 
Jer Thorp

Author of Living in Data (Spring 2020) | Former NYT Data Artist-in-Residence

When Twitter, Microsoft, and Facebook need an expert to analyze their data, who do they turn to? The answer is Jer Thorp—the most respected Data Artist in America (what he does goes far beyond analysis). By creating multi-dimensional, visually stunning projects, Thorp makes data visible—and changes the way we think and act. 
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 pinned down modern America like no one else. And in fun, funny talks, he not only cuts to the bone of our media-saturated moment, but makes it the site of our shared, unlikely commonality.
 
Wanuri Kahiu

Acclaimed Writer & Director of Rafiki | Co-Founder of AFROBUBBLEGUM

When Wanuri Kahiu’s second feature film, the Cannes-selected Rafiki, was banned in her home country of Kenya for featuring a romance between two women, she wouldn’t stand for it. An acclaimed filmmaker and co-founder of AFROBUBBLEGUM, Kahiu’s art and talks show that being fun and frivolous includes—and in fact necessitates—being fierce.
Edward Burtynsky

World-Renowned Photographer, Winner of the TED Prize

World-renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky creates stunning photos—“reflecting pools of our time. On stage, he talks about the connection between art and social transformation, human nature and consumption, and industry and environment. 
Jane Golden

Founder and Executive Director of Mural Arts Philadelphia

How can art help us drive civic restoration? As the Executive Director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, the nation’s largest public art program, Jane Golden has seen her city transform through creativity and grit. Under Golden’s leadership, Mural Arts is a model for community development and restorative justice around the globe.  
 
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. In her captivating and intimate talks, she demystifies the creative process, inspires personal reflection, and provokes new ideas for community and well-being.  
Angie Thomas

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author of On the Come Up and The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas’ debut novel, The Hate U Give, has spent more than two years on The New York Times bestseller list, and her sophomore novel, On the Come Up is keeping it good company. Thomas’ keynotes resonate with the same authenticity, insight, and hope that make her writing so powerful, and give context and background to the culture, politics, and movement that inspired it. 
 
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 appropriation and displacement. A poignant speaker, she captures beautifully the tug of competing worlds felt by millions of immigrants around the world. 
Vijay Gupta

Founder of Street Symphony | 2018 MacArthur Fellow | TED Senior Fellow

Vijay Gupta is a violinist and educator whose efforts to merge music with mental health are changing the world, note by note. Gupta is the founder of Street Symphony—a musical advocacy program that empowers citizen-musicians by engaging with communities experiencing extreme poverty, incarceration, and homelessness. The results have been extraordinary.  
Titus Kaphar

2018 MacArthur Fellow | 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). Kaphar’s art and talks expose racism, inequality, and a criminal justice system that is anything but just. 
 
Gabby Rivera

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

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, she’s also the writer of the Marvel series America—featuring the first queer, Latinx teen-girl superhero, ever—that’s catching headlines from The New York Times, CNN, Vogue, and beyond.
 
LaToya Ruby Frazier

Photographer | Associate Professor at School of the Art Institute of Chicago

One of the nation’s most acclaimed photographers, LaToya Ruby Frazier’s work depicts the unsettling reality of today’s America: post-industrial cities riven by poverty, racism, healthcare inequality, and environmental toxicity. By featuring voices and perspectives traditionally erased from the American narrative, Frazier not only captures our cultural blind spots—she teaches us how art is a powerful tool for social transformation. 
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. He speaks elegantly about creative and scientific processes; the role of intuition and imagination; the work of Einstein; the meeting of science and faith; and the wonder and fragility of human nature—what it means to be alive.  
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 has sold over 70 million books in over 40 languages. The massive audiences who laugh, and occasionally cry, at her public talks are a testament to her boldly imaginative works, which have brought together generations of readers. 
Teju Cole

Professor of Creative Writing at Harvard | Author of Blind Spot | Former 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 Award. His second, Every Day Is for the Thief, was named a Book of the Year by The New York Times. Most recently, Cole produced Blind Spot—a synthesis of written observations and travel photography.  
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. Unabashedly political, she worked with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to create a moving and beautiful short film about the Green New Deal. Crabapple’s art and talks engage injustice, subversiveness, and rebellion.  
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” of sound. In her multimedia presentations, she takes claim of sound and the relationship she has forged to it, by liberating the voice from social constraints and norms.  
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.” He co-wrote his most recent #1 New York Times bestseller, The President is Missing, with Bill Clinton.   
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 world. From massive installations that awaken us to the present moment to his Hereafter Institute—a project that lets us experience digital memorials—this artist is making vital new rituals for modern life.