Sixth State reflects Indiana’s continued interest in religious and mystical themes. It draws upon Indiana's large-scale work on paper Stavrosis (1958) in which twelve circles, or “orbs” (in Indiana's terminology) appear, representing the twelve apostles of Jesus. The orbs in this work and in the group of paintings that follow suggest that the orb is a form of latent potential, while the designation of them as “States” suggests the passage of time and stages of growth or change. Indiana later connected his interest in the circle to his childhood experience of the Christian Science church which taught that the circle represented the eternal aspect of life.
A wash of white gesso has been applied to the plywood surface, heightening the contrast of the wood grain. The gold paint was likely added to the work around 2001 when Indiana revisited other works in this group.