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[BKARTS] Book Find in ID

March 21, 2007
Release and photos online: http://news.boisestate.edu 


A small, dusty-blue book found in files in the museum at the Idaho
State School for the Deaf and Blind has shed new light on the life of
Idaho*s most famous native artist/bookmaker, reportedly deaf and
perhaps autistic James Castle, according to Tom Trusky, Boise State
professor and director of the Idaho Center for the Book.

Castle was born in Garden Valley in 1899 and was thought to be deaf,
mute, illiterate and mentally challenged. He produced thousands of
drawings and illustrations during his life, using tools that he
fashioned himself, before dying in Boise in 1977. Castle attended the
Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind. 

Trusky recently interviewed Jerry Wilding, retired ISDB teacher and
current curator of the school*s museum who uncovered the ledger book. 
A few years ago Wilding discovered the slim volume that chronicles mail
deliveries 1910-1916 to the then newly-built facility in Gooding, Idaho.
Only this year, however, as Wilding reviewed the volume, did the curator
realize it contained information that would revise the understanding of
the self-taught artist and his family.

Wilding, who now calls the record book one of the museum*s *most
cherished* items, noticed entries detailing deliveries to the young
artist from 1912 to 1915. Previously, the Castle family, acquaintances,
curators and Castle biographer Trusky had believed Castle, with his
hearing-impaired older sister Nellie Castle, had matriculated at the
school at 1910, only to be expelled after a few months as
*uneducable.* Nellie Castle was thought to have graduated before
her marriage in 1914. Wilding*s book sets the record straight. 

*We now know,* explained Trusky, who has studied the Gooding school
volume, *that Nellie - an excellent student - apparently attended the
Gooding school for only one year. However, the mail log book chronicles
deliveries to her brother James at the school until 1915.*

The book reveals that the artist may not have been as self-taught as
previously thought, Trusky suggested. Still, he notes, it does not
invalidate family and local lore that Castle was sent home to Garden
Valley from school. 

*It may be that it was in 1915 - not 1910 - that educators felt they
could not assist the teenager,* Trusky said. 

Why Castle did not stay at ISDB and graduate is still a mystery. Trusky
will incorporate the new finding into a second, revised edition of his
definitive biography, *James Castle: His Life and Art.* 


Contact: Tom Trusky, English, (208) 426-1999, ttrusky@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Media Contact: Julie Hahn, University Communications, (208) 426-5540,

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