Systems and Academic Works

Bio — Lezlie A. Kinyon, Ph.D. – bio in brief

Dr. Kinyon grew up in the rural Pacific Northwest, gaining her first interest in the arts from relatives on the Quinalt Reservation, who taught her traditional embroidery, dying and weaving. As her focus turned to the analytic world of academia, she sought a way to reconcile these two very different ways of thinking. She followed the emerging field of arts-informed inquiry, and this eventually lead to her dissertation, The Elegant Solution: Toward a Theory of Aesthetic Inquiry for the Human Sciences. At the root of her approach to education is the idea that creativity can be not only a fun learning tool, but can give students a deeper and richer understanding of their studies. Dr. Kinyon continues to pursue her first love of art through music, theater, and poetry. As a part of both the academic and art communities, she also sees how arts-informed inquiry can benefit naturally creative people, by helping them understand academic inquiry through their own way of thinking. For her students, the use of arts in the classroom and in projects creates an unparalleled environment of creativity, expression, and deep learning. Dr. Kinyon currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she has worked with underprivileged youth as an academic coordinator, developed a service learning program for the Oakland School District, and co-designed the “If Not Now Fellowship” for college and graduate students in the sciences. She holds a Doctorate in Human Science from Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center in San Francisco. She studied art formally at Johnston College, University of Redlands.

If you are interested in seeing my CV, click here: RESUME & CURRICULUM VITAE

Arts-informed Inquiry

There is a deep-laying connection between the fields of human inquiry. The better word is resonance. Resonance: “…the prolongation of a sound by reflection or the sympathetic vibration of other bodies”.
One area of inquiry – art-making and human science research – both compliments and enriches the other. Arts-based inquiry research is interdisciplinary. It incorporates the questions of validity, legitimacy, and significance of traditional approaches as well as the questions of meaning and function that an artist asks in approaching work. Two parallel and equal “tracks” of inquiry: The arts-informed inquiry that utilizes the tools of the arts in human science research and, art-as-inquiry, in the form of art-making: story, visual art, and music. The application for such inquiry models is far reaching: in organizational design, “capturing” the elusive experiences of human life in studies of gender, spiritual and mystical experiences, the understanding of wisdom, and the process of creativity and art-making itself. For those with work in other fields of inquiry this approach to inquiry can bring new understanding for the practitioner.

The arts, as whole, represent a different way of knowing. One that is studied by researchers by studying the work of artists and in a growing movement called “arts-informed inquiry”. Researchers such as Ardra Cole, Lorri Neilson, Laurel Richardson, and Gary Knowles and their colleagues are beginning to use the tools of the arts in coming into knowledge through research in the social sciences and humanities. Artists themselves engage in coming into knowledge – inquiry – through the specifics of the discipline they engage in, a process that Marsha Heck and Elizabeth White among others, have called “art-as-inquiry” or “aesthetic inquiry. Cybernetician and poet Elizabeth White (1999) gives us an example of aesthetic inquiry, she sees this resonance in poetry, “… little poem as science, as poetry, as representing a philosophy of wholeness, and as illustrative of a personal spiritual life because her experience of God has only to do with a state of being. It is through that state that both her poetry and theoretical organizational modeling appear.”

I breathe the tree
And the tree breathes me. (Elizabeth White, 1999)


Everyday Heroes; Eighteen Months in the West Contra Costa Schools as an AmeriCorps Member, and Beyond

Through the Eye of the Dragon: Arts-based Inquiry in Human Systems Design

2005: Through the Eye of the Dragon: Arts-based Inquiry in Human Systems Design Proceedings of: 49th Meeting of The International Society for the Systems Sciences, Cancun, Mx.  2005.

Wisdom and Added Knowledge: The Dragon’s Pearl is Viewed Toward a Robust Definition of Wisdom for Arts Informed Inquiry in Human Science

Abstract: Seemingly integral to the human experience, the idea of wisdom is such an intriguing idea in human science inquiry that it has been explored by several science writers and by many artists.   Using speculative fiction as both an example and as an exploratory tool, this paper attempts to theorize a robust definition of wisdom within human science research and in the literary arts-as-inquiry.  Utilizing a systemic approach and suggesting that the knowledge added to the human experience by the artist cannot always be quantified nor qualified within spoken language but is an example of lived experience within the “systemic coherences” between emotion, thought, and animal living described by Maturana and Bunnell (1997), a part of the natural process of living.

Victoria Nelson’s “Puppets”: Is the Literature of the Imagination the “Repressed Transcendental” or an Act of Rebellion?

Abstract: The genre of what is currently known as speculative fiction covers a range of material from “near-future” scenarios to fantasy fiction and, of course, science fiction.  Such seemingly disparate story forms as the film Johnny Mnemonic to the phantasmagorias of dark romance and gothic novels, the alternate realities of Tepper, the heroic fantasy literature of Tolkien and C. S. Lewis and the science fiction world building of writers like Isaac Asimov, C. J. Cherryh, Le Guin or Poul Anderson all belong to speculative fiction.  A large pool of material and none of it falls into the “mainstream” American “high art” of realism.  It remains (along with other “genre” fiction) the literature of the masses – what would have once been called “penny dreadfuls”, and is somewhat denigrated by “high-art” critics as “escapist”.  Speculative fiction is also the most extensively marketed form of creative narrative in existence.  Fantasy, in particular, has become a commercial market of profitable, but predictable tales made for the grocery store rack.  Le Guin (2001) says of commercialized fantasy, in an interview with Locus Magazine in 2001: Commercial fantasy?  It fills a place that romance doesn’t, because romance is so fixated on sexuality.  …  But a lot of romances are just emotional orgies.  Commercial fantasy supplies the same reassurance as romance does, and a lot of the same familiar themes, but at least there is some imagination, at least it’s a slightly different world.  (para. 7) Le Guin (2002/2004) also describes marketing best sellers in this tongue-in-cheek manner, ….

The Experience of Wisdom Through the Creation of Ritual Theatre Co authored Lezlie Kinyon & Evelie Delfino Såles Posch

The Experience of Wisdom Through the Creation of Ritual Theatre Co author, Evelie Delfino Såles Posch; presented at the 25th Annual International Conference on the Study of Shamanism and Alternative Modes of Healing, San Rafael CA. September 2008

Abstract: During the summer of 2006, through the process of engaging in dialogue, art-making, and ritual an assembled company of players, musicians and crew grappled with the themes, archetypes and forms of ritual drama.  This paper will document the journey made by the players/collaborators as the production was created.  The authors will utilize arts-informed inquiry to discuss how the ensemble as researcher/participants inquired into wisdom found in folk culture and explored through sacred theatre.  The genesis of this production was the sacred dramas of ancient theatron where sacred mystery dramas of the ancient world occurred (such as the festivals for Dionysus, the Thesmophoria or the rites at Eleusis).  The empty space filled by music and puppetry recalled sacred Tamul “divine plays” (tiru vilaiyatal) performed in Sri Lanka or the ancient British seasonal mummers’ plays or hoodening rituals: drama that arrives unexpectedly and – in a moment – is gone.

As each aspect of the play developed into its final form and the actors created their characters, the ensemble explored how mythic figures and their ancient stories played themselves out in our everyday lives and the many layers of meanings within those stories were revealed.  As each actor created his or her character, the archetypes found in the drama were evoked in both a symbolic and literal sense as the actors gained understanding of and meaning from the images and stories explored.  Continuing within the idea of sacred drama, each member of the cast underwent further transformations through the course of the play through masks, costumes, and puppets created by the ensemble.  Invoked thereby, the actors then evoked the play’s “elemental and mythic figures” for the audience.

Singing Down the Moon, Dancing up the Sun: Using Folklore and Myth in Creating Ritual and Ritual Performance

Presented at: Myth and Fairy Tale SIG Southwest/Texas Popular & American Culture Associations 30th Annual Conference in Albuquerque, N.M. February 25-28 2009 Hyatt Regency Albuquerque 330 Tijeras Albuquerque, NM 87102 Phone: 1.505.842.1234


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