The American Dream is a principal theme of Indiana’s work, beginning with his painting The American Dream, I (1960–61). Although he completed seven paintings in the series by 1967, it was not until 1992 that the subject appeared as a sculpture, which can be considered a pendant to the series of paintings.
The American Dream, an early Vinalhaven construction, was created from one of the remaining beams Indiana had salvaged on Coenties Slip, and recalls early herms such as Moon (1960) and Star (1960–62), with its four wheels down each side. The words “hug,” “err,” “eat,” and “die” are painted in stenciled letters on the front of the sculpture. These words, motifs found throughout Indiana’s work, both alone and in different combinations (for example Hug  and Column Eat/Hug/Err ), first appeared all together in The Demuth American Dream No. 5 (1963).