John Jones: So in a sense even the selection of many of your words for all periods of your work have this kind of subjective thing. The words somehow seem to be packed with . . .
Robert Indiana: Usually a tremendous number of associations. This is most true of “eat.” “Eat” was the last word that my mother spoke before she died. “Eat” was an obsession throughout my whole life. My mother loved to cook. She felt that her chief asset in life was her culinary abilities. The family’s livelihood came from restaurants, “eat” signs themselves you don’t see here in New York, they’re very rare but in the Midwest “eat” signs are all over the landscape. It’s like a first commandment, the most important thing in life, unfortunately, is “eat.” If you don’t, you die. And people seem to have put that into the background somehow.
John Jones, Interview with Robert Indiana, October 14, 1965, Interviews with artists, 1965 Oct. 5–1965 Nov. 12, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, p. 9.