Alumni Profile:
Kahdija Murray

Class of 2008

Kahdija Murray is a visual artist and musician, who works under the alias Dija Ouija. A graduate of the Oak Grove class of 2008, they spent their senior year at Oak Grove after transferring to Ojai from Los Angeles. Kahdija currently lives and works in Las Vegas.

Alumni Kahdija Murray 2008

Joining Oak Grove

I joined Oak Grove for my senior year in 2007. There was an agreement between my inner-city charter school in L.A. and Oak Grove, where a couple of students from either school were supposed to temporarily transfer for a few weeks as a cultural exchange. But when I toured Oak Grove together with my classmate and long time friend, Tyler Mornéy (OGS class of 2009), we both realized that Oak Grove was the place for us and where we wanted to spend the remainder of our high school experience.

I remember being especially blown away by all the artistic and creative opportunities that were available for students at Oak Grove. College was approaching quickly, and I needed to be accepted into an accredited art university but realized that my prospects weren’t looking great, as there was a real lack of resources and exposure at my old school. That small charter school located behind a church provided my first experiences in alternative education, and I’m very grateful for that, but there was no art studio and no foundational art courses taught by potential mentors. So, seeing all the artistic resources at Oak Grove (including the amazing, two-story art studio) was one of the things that cemented my spontaneous decision.

Another major aspect that drew me in was the palpable sense of community. I assume the average teenager would want to go to a massive high school with thousands of students and crowded locker rooms, the kind of school environment you often see depicted in a Netflix series. I was surprisingly the opposite, preferring smaller environments that were less busy, with fewer people who are more interconnected. I really liked the intimate nature of Oak Grove, and I loved that even though the student body was so small, the campus was huge, and there was so much openness and access to nature, which again I had not really had back in L.A.

“I really liked the intimate nature of Oak Grove, and I loved that even though the student body was so small, the campus was huge, and there was so much openness and access to nature, which again I had not really had back in L.A.”

I spent my senior year staying at Besant House, one of my favorite parts of my Oak Grove experience. I was able to really build bonds there, not just with other students, but with the staff too – especially Elena Hall, Jeff Otterbein, and Uschi Gibson. It was a diverse space to come back to and reconvene as a group after school trips.

Senior Trip to India

Of course, traveling to India was a milestone in my life that I will never forget. Staying in Rishi Valley was incredible, and we seamlessly bonded with students there over music and art. I was forced out of my comfort zone after constant confrontations with nature, something I wasn’t used to at all. I remember staying at the Bangalore campus and being casually warned by staff about a jaguar being on the loose. Culture shock was an understatement! It was an eye-opener, but an experience for which I remain appreciative.

Life after Oak Grove

After I graduated from Oak Grove in 2008, I immediately moved to San Francisco to attend Academy of Art University. My time in Ojai and at Besant House definitely helped to prepare me for bunk beds, multilingual roommates, and extended time away from my family. I received my Bachelors in Fine Art and Illustration and started doing related commissioned work. As I built up my client base, I worked art teaching jobs and odd gigs until I landed my first full-time design position at a corporate law firm doing litigation presentation design. Since then, I’ve been freelancing for a variety of different clients, a large percentage of them being women: I provide graphic solutions to women business owners, women in entertainment, women facilitators, and mothers of color.

As an artist I would describe my work as utilizing classic artforms, media, and textures and giving them my own modern, unique sensibility. I work with traditional materials like woodblock, graphite, charcoal, and textiles, combining them with digital processes and graphics to create something both timeless and current.

K Murray Artwork

Present-day Life & Work

I recently moved to Nevada, out of a desire to be adjacent to my home state of California while also being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. Once again, I was searching for a more intimate connection that you don’t always get in a sprawling metropolis. Here I’m able to connect directly with curators, event planners, promoters, and develop close relationships with other artists with a speed that may not have been possible back home.

A big project I’ve been working on just culminated: The film The Other, Gold is premiering at Tribeca Festival in New York this year. I contributed graphic art direction, fine art set decoration, an animated sequence, and three tracks I wrote and performed for the soundtrack.

This film has become a showcase for all of my work and all the different skills that I have explored, which Oak Grove played such a pivotal part in growing.

Find Kahdija’s work at Dija

Keep in Touch!

Are you an Oak Grove alumni? We’d love to hear from you! Please make sure you visit the alumni page and we’ll keep in touch with an occasional update about what’s new at Oak Grove, alumni events and opportunities to stay connected.

Recent Blog Posts:

Oak Grove Student Newspaper

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