• 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.

 

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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, ab...

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 produc...

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...

Sarah Lewis

Author of The Rise, Guest-Editor of Aperture’s “Vision & Justice” Issue

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 el...

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, often using hundreds of square feet of imagery and billions of pieces of data, 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...

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. The Atlantic calls her artwork Before I Die

Angie Thomas

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

Angie Thomas’ On the Come Up is #1 on The New York Times bestseller list. The #2 spot? Her debut novel, The Hate U Give. It’s safe to say that this chart-topping author is no longer on the come up—s...

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...

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. Named a 2018 MacArthur Fellow for “providing musical enrichment and valuab...

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). Named a 2...

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, ...

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...

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 70 million books in over 40 languages. The massive audiences ...

Teju Cole

Professor of Creative Writing at Harvard | Author of Blind Spot | 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. Unabashedly political, she worked with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to ...

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...