Ann Houle Quilts

About Ann

Ann at her sewing machine When I was about 9 or 10 I knew what I wanted when I grew up: to live on a houseboat in Sausalito and work as an actress at ACT Repertory Theater in San Francisco.  I was also a child that stood for long minutes in front of the display of embroidery floss at the five and dime store trying to decide which delicious colors I would choose, which, when I took my purchase home, were never enough.

Some dreams were achieved – no houseboat in Sausalito, alas – although living in beautiful Monterey is a close second, and I did become an actor for a time.  I loved acting and still have dreams about it.  I loved the comradery and trust developed in a group of actors in rehearsal. I loved the inner work of uncovering and developing the psychological and emotional life of each role and then finding the most effective physical gesture or tone of voice to convey the character. And I loved performing – presenting the construct I had rehearsed in the white-hot intensity of live performance.

Then I became a drama therapist and Marriage and Family Therapist.  I wrote my Masters thesis on the use of theater/psychodrama in learning self-defense, how combining emotional intensity with physical action produces power and strength.  I spent my professional life working with the stories that people tell about themselves, trying to uncover or untangle the psychological plots so that the stories became about resiliency, strength and choice rather than confusion, limitation and defeat.

And I became a quilter with a passion about color, shape and texture.  I gaze at quilt store bolts with the same sense of mouth-watering lust as I did in front of the floss display as a child.  At the time I started quilting in the mid-90s, I was fortunate to live in the San Francisco east bay communities of Oakland and Berkeley, and learned the craft of quilting in the midst of a progressive and daring group of women who were (and still are) expanding quilting into personalized art.  So, I always saw quilts as art and a medium for personal expression.  While I love beautiful, traditional pieced quilts, and frequently will make quilts in that style, I stretch myself most when I find a way to infuse the influences of drama, story, psychological/intellectual exploration, and emotional content into the fabric of the quilt.

Curriculum Vitae


Nine Sad Apes
Pacific International Quilt Festival, 2006

Athletes, a Solo Exhibit
Bay Quilts, Richmond, CA, 2022

Gymnast Pyramid @1945
Body Language, SAQA Virtual Gallery, 2023

Artist Profile: Ann Houle
Quilting Arts Magazine, Fall 2022, Issue 115

Inspired by Drama: Ann Houle
SAQA Journal, Studio Art Quilt Associates, 2022, Vol. 32, No. 4.

Quilts In Motion
Artists Magazine, May/June 2023

Photography Credits

All quilts were photographed by David Reese, and the headshots of me by Ben Kaatz.