Judith Harris in Israel with her husband, Tony Woolfson, in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Judith Harris)
A young Judith Harris practices harp behind Kresge Auditorium as an intermediate Camper in 1965.
At 38 years old, lifelong pianist and music teacher Judith Harris (IAA 66-69, IAC/NMC 65-66, 70) decided to change careers; she moved to Switzerland and entered the training program at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zürich for psychoanalysis.
The two careers may seem vastly different, but Harris believes they have much more in common than it might seem. “The creative process is still at the center of my work,” she says. Her Interlochen experience prepared her to excel in both careers.
“Interlochen gave me the ability to think, to have discipline, and to understand the patterns in all kinds of intricate things,” she says. These are qualities she draws on every day, whether she’s playing piano, serving as president of the Philemon Foundation, or analyzing her clients’ dreams.
“In my field, there are many people who used to be musicians or dancers or actors before they became psychoanalysts,” she says, because “we recognize that healing often happens through discovery of one’s own creative process.” She also finds that artists are drawn to analysis because they are comfortable exploring the unconscious: “If you’re a great painter,” for example, “you are painting in the unconscious as well.” She often helps her clients to explore the unconscious through writing. Even more than her university education, she credits her time at Interlochen as a camper and Academy student with preparing her to do this kind of work.
“It’s such a unique place,” she says, because both the arts education and the academics are of the highest quality. “The standard of excellence was far higher at Interlochen than what was available to me in my small hometown of London, Ontario. I’ve always been grateful for that.” This is one of the reasons she feels so strongly about continuing to support Interlochen: “When one has received something, one must give back.”
For Harris, giving back began early. She made her first gift to Interlochen in 1968 and since then, has supported the Annual Fund, the construction of the new music building and other key areas. Through CREATE AMAZING, Harris also decided to perpetuate her philanthropic legacy even further with an estate commitment that includes Interlochen.
But it’s not just for personal and philanthropic reasons that Harris remains devoted to Interlochen. She wants as many people as possible to experience Interlochen so that they will go out into the world and share that experience with others.
“Anyone who has been at Interlochen keeps that experience with them for the rest of their lives,” she says. “If you’re a parent, you pass it on to your children. If you’re a teacher, you pass it on to your students. If you’re a doctor, you pass it on to your patients. People who live in the arts, as I do, will bring a wider dimension to whatever they do.”