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Darryl Love, Birmingham-Area Chemist, Included in Painting With Black Science Trailblazers

Retired Evonik chemist Darryl Love is featured in a painting of Black science trailblazers that recently concluded a tour of cities. (Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Photo, For The Birmingham Times)

By Solomon Crenshaw Jr. | For The Birmingham Times

Tour de Love, the journey of a painting featuring Black science trailblazers and local chemist Darryl Love, made it back home last week where it all began a year ago.

Evonik, one of the world’s leading specialty chemicals companies, celebrated the February 20 homecoming of the painting during a Black History Month ceremony. The event in the Evonik auditorium, drew a room full of staffers who were present for the painting but more for the retired colleague who returned to his old stomping grounds.

The art – Black Resilience: Innovation in the Midst of Resistance by New Orleans-based artist Kenneth Scott Jr. – depicts Love with famous Black scientists like George Washington Carver and Marie Maynard Daly. The artwork was commissioned in 2023 by Blacks United in Leadership & Development, or BUILD. It is Evonik’s employee resource group for Black professionals.

Tracy Cheavious, a business development manager at Evonik, with retired chemist Darryl Love. (Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Photo, For The Birmingham Times)

Tracy Cheavious, a co-chair of BUILD and business development manager at Evonik, said, “BUILD wanted to highlight Black scientists within the company and thus honor Black excellence. While Darryl Love’s career came to an end, the portrait honoring him will have a positive impact for years to come.”

She added, “We have seen such a tremendous, positive response from employees here at Evonik. It has been amazing. To see it make that tour and make it here right at Black History Month is kind of like a full circle moment.”

The painting depicts several Black scientific pioneers in chemistry, botany and drug development, and Evonik’s Love, who retired from the company.

“I’m much honored to be a part of that portrait and to have people take their picture with it,” said Love, who worked 47 years as a research scientist until retiring last year (although) he hasn’t taken a seat in a rocking chair. He is a research chemist/trainer for E3 Solutions, Inc., a 501(c)(3) [non-profit] that was founded by his wife Debra in 2015.

“The theme of Black resilience in regard to Evonik meant featuring Black pioneers in the sciences,” artist Kenneth Scott Jr. said in a company release. “The botanical foliage with lotus flowers in the painting’s background symbolizes resilience and strength. The style of the foliage was inspired by the paintings of botanist George Washington Carver, who was an artist as well.”

The travels of the painting have come to be known as Tour de Love, which plays off Tour de France, the renowned French bicycle race.

Cheavious said the showing turned out better than she imagined.

“(The painting) toured five of Evonik’s largest sites. Throughout the tour, employees had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the painting and take pictures.”

The painting visited:

  • Mobile, Ala., the company’s largest production site in North America
  • Piscataway, N.J., the North America regional headquarters
  • Allentown, Pa., North America’s Innovation Hub
  • Tippecanoe Labs in Lafayette, Ind., Evonik’s second largest production site in North America, and
  • Richmond, Va., the collaboration hub for hybrid workforce.

“We had QR codes at some of the sites where people [could] scan it and read about it, learn about the artist, things of that nature,” Cheavious said.

Some said the painting received a Taylor Swift reception as several Evonik employees snapped selfies with it. “It would be nice if I could make Taylor Swift kind of money,” Darryl Love joked, calling the experience humbling.

The picture will be framed and mounted in the Lakeshore facility’s lobby. “Every visitor and every employee will see that beautiful painting,” Cheavious said. “It’s a reminder of Evonik’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”