WILLIAM WEGMAN’S nature-inspired artwork is showcased in an exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art through Oct. 21. A screening and discussion of Wegman’s early films will take place Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium at Bowdoin College.

WILLIAM WEGMAN’S nature-inspired artwork is showcased in an exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art through Oct. 21. A screening and discussion of Wegman’s early films will take place Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium at Bowdoin College.

BRUNSWICK

For artist William Wegman, the day begins with his dogs.

The artist is known internationally for his photography, particularly images of his Weimaraners, who appear in much of his work, often doing human-like things such as piloting sailboats or cooking supper.

The dogs are a blank, “reflective” subject that can take on many different roles, he said in a phone interview — and caring for them is an integral part of his creative process.

Wegman’s nature-inspired artwork is showcased in an exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art through Oct. 21. A screening and discussion of Wegman’s early films will take place Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium at Bowdoin College.

At the discussion, titled “William Wegman in Conversation: Performance, Process, and Early Video Art,” Wegman will comment on a selection of his early films and examine how they evolved and influenced his current artistic practice.

“I have four dogs.” he said. “My day begins with them, feeding them and walking them.

“Then we work. They like being made tall and they like to be the center of attention. They love to feel superior,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s like working with children. What we do is like parallel play. They also do dog things alongside my work.”

Lori Zippay, executive director of Electronic Arts Intermix in New York, said Wegman’s Weimaraner series is just one part of an “extraordinary” body of work that spans 40 years.

Electronic Arts Intermix collects, preserves and exhibits media art.

“It’s pioneering. We were founded to deal exclusively with video art,” Zippay said. “We just celebrated our 40th anniversary and Bill has been with us since we began. His early video works are classics of video art history.”

The Bowdoin program is organized in conjunction with “William Wegman: Hello Nature,” an exhibi- tion on view at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art through Oct. 21 featuring more than 100 works including photographs, videos, paintings and drawings, all of which were produced in or inspired by the state of Maine.

Wegman’s film “The Hardly Boys in Hardly Gold,” and his short “Pine Tree Frosty,” are featured prominently in the exhibition.

Taken together, the body of work attests to Wegman’s rigorous and sustained engagement with the natural world and places the artist squarely within the American landscape tradition, according to a news release announcing the exhibition.

In the format of a conversation, Wegman and Zippay will talk Thursday about his video work in the context of an artistic career that includes photography, painting, drawing and “found” art.

Part of the Bowdoin exhibit includes paintings that Wegman extrapolated from postcards bound to the canvas and a whole world spun out in watercolor or ink to complete the image.

“People now send me postcards because they know what I can do with them. It’s boundless. I have so many postcards,” Wegman said.

The exhibit also chronicles the creation of Wegman’s “Field Guide to North America,” a thoughtful parody of camping manuals, Boy Scout guidebooks and naturalist ideals. “I made 20 of these books and each one is different,” he said. “Every page was unique.”

Zippay notes the artist’s wry sense of humor and cross-media approach in his video work, as well.

“In his early black-andwhite videos, you see his visual puns and sight gags. That evolves into a use of humor in narrative and language in his films.”

But for Wegman, his work as an artist is not intentionally funny.

“I think it started way back in the ’60s as insecurity that people didn’t get what I was doing,” he said. “If I put something out there and people said, ‘that’s interesting,’ I wouldn’t know what they meant. But if someone falls down and laughs, you know what that means.”

An open house and reception will follow the discussion at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

Wegman, who spends each summer and Christmas in the Rangeley Lakes region, and whose work is inspired by the landscape of Maine, will be on hand to sign the exhibition catalog and posters.

“It was a really fun show to put together,” Wegman said.

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art is open to the public free of charge Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday evenings until 8:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit www.bowdoin.edu/art-museum.

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