Farmington Hills names arts award winners

The Farmington Area Arts Commission and the Farmington Hills Cultural Arts Division will honor Farmington Hills illustrator John Martin and Harrison High dance instructor Tumija (Toi) Banks during the Festival of the Arts Reception and Awards Ceremony, held Friday, April 13.

John Martin
John Martin (City of Farmington Hills)

Martin is the 2018 Artist in Residence; Banks will received the 2018 Nancy Coumoundouros Distinguished Service to the Arts Award. The 2018 winners of the Farmington Art Foundation’s juried show, the High School Student Art Competition, and the Arts Educator of the year will be honored as well.

Tumija Banks
Tumija Banks (City of Farmington Hills)

The event, held at the Costick Center in Farmington Hills, marks the 42nd year of recognizing excellence in the arts in the Farmington community. The Artist in Residence Award is given each year to a resident of Farmington or Farmington Hills who displays exceptional talent and artistic accomplishments. The Distinguished Service to the Arts Award recognizes outstanding service to the community in the creative arts by a group or individual.

An award-winning illustrator, graphic designer, website creator, and adjunct professor at the College for Creative Studies (CCS), Martin directs a summer cartoon camp in Farmington Hills for kids ages 7 to 14. With Scott Seeger, he is the co-creator and illustrator of the “Vordak the Incomprehensible” and “SCI-FI Junior High” book series.

Martin’s paintings are typically acrylic and mixed media on wood or Masonite panels, as well as ink on paper, vellum or illustration board. He has done local design work for the Farmington Downtown Development Authority, Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Sunflour Bakehaus. Pro bono art projects have included United Cerebral Palsy, 5K Bagpipe Run for the fight against Multiple Sclerosis, CCS Wine Auction, Greater Farmington Film Festival, and more.

Banks, a dance teacher for 18 years, earned an M.A. from Nova Southeastern University in Teaching and Learning, specializing in Curriculum and Instruction, and a B.S. in Dance and Physical Education from Wayne State University.

With a teaching philosophy rooted in Interdisciplinary Instruction and Integration, Banks developed a comprehensive dance program at Harrison High School in 2000 and established the Harrison Dance Company. She is also the founder and director of Oakland Dance Festival, a state-wide event that provides young dancers access to college dance programs.

Under her direction, the Harrison Dance Company has received honors at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, the Regional High School Dance Festival, and the National High School Dance Festival. The group has worked with renowned choreographers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Cedar Lakes Ballet Company, Visceral Dance Chicago, Koresh Dance Company, and various commercial artists.

Alumni of the Harrison Dance Company program have gone on to perform with professional dance companies, work in health-related fields, and teach dance in private and public institutions.

Banks has received the Superintendent’s Award of Excellence (2002); Michigan Dance Teacher of the Year (2004); Rainbow Recognition Chair Award (2012); and Wayne State University’s Arts Achievement Award (2015).

The 2018 Festival of the Arts Reception and Awards Ceremony is open to all ages, and will feature delicious hot and cold appetizers, a cash bar (ages 21 and older), and entertainment by talented local individuals and groups.

Tickets are only $10 per person when purchased by April 6 or $15 per person after that date. Purchase tickets at or in person at the Costick Center.

For more information, call 248-473-1848 or visit

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