The movement for social change first swept up Ellen Eisenman when she was a student at Ohio State in the late 1960s. She's since traveled to poverty-stricken parts of the world and spent years working with families in need at Columbus' South Side Settlement House.

The movement for social change first swept up Ellen Eisenman when she was a student at Ohio State in the late 1960s. She's since traveled to poverty-stricken parts of the world and spent years working with families in need at Columbus' South Side Settlement House.

Eisenman photographed her experiences, along with portraits of those she encountered. Now based primarily in New York, the former Worthington resident visited last week to introduce "Cultural Reflections," a show of the collages she creates from these images, at the McConnell Arts Center.

Eisenman uses exacting geometry, multiple prints of the same image and zigzag threading in striking pieces that recall patchwork quilting and kaleidoscopes. Beading and brass wire accents make the pins needed to fix the works to canvas more visually appealing.

As she explained during an Oct. 30 artist talk at the center, Eisenman started stitching after a meeting with a personal hero, writer and activist James Baldwin. No one photo in the roll she'd taken of him came close to encompassing his character, "so why not use several?" she recalled thinking.

For the McConnell exhibition, she sews together shards of life experience and social documentation to make physical connections between memories and activist movements that span decades and continents. The work unites local with global and illustrates that behind every effort for change are individuals with very personal reasons for involvement.

"I saw a lot of stuff," Eisenman said of her own activism. Included in the collages are images of grave markers in Ghana, OSU demonstrations from a less racially enlightened time and rows of police in riot gear.

They're a lot to take in for the viewer, but also for the artist. Eisenman's work helps her process her experiences and ensures that the closure is positive and harmonious.