Well, I'm very interested in art history and the painting that inspired me to do Mother and Father was Arshile Gorky's beautiful, beautiful canvas at the Whitney Museum of American Art that shows him as a small boy with his mother. It occurred to me that artists have frequently done portraits of their fathers or their mothers, but very rarely in art history do you find a double portrait. Given that I am indulging myself in art history, it also occurred to me to revive the half-draped figure, and in a sense, my mother is simply a very classical half-draped lady. As to why, in the 17th and 18th centuries ladies wanted to have their paintings painted with their bosoms exposed, I do not know, but I do know my mother was not very Victorian; she was more a Restoration type. She was a very warm, sensous and alive human being, whereas my father was kind of a cold fish. It's a very loving portrait. The main criticism agains the Mother painting is that people suspect a lack of respect on my part. They believe a well-brought up young person wouldn't depict his mother in such a way. Indeed, I have hoped to giver her immortality.
— Robert Indiana
Marius B. Péladeau and Martin Dibner, Indiana’s Indianas: A Twenty-Year Retrospective of Paintings and Sculpture from the Collection of Robert Indiana (Rockland, Maine: William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum, 1982), pp. 9–10.