Robert Houle was born in St. Boniface, Manitoba in 1947. He studied art history at the University of Manitoba, and graduated from McGill University in Montreal with a degree in Art Education.
Houle has played a significant role in the recovery of aboriginal heritage and representation. He draws on Western art conventions and aspects of European colonization in his works. Often Houle incorporates text and photographic documents into his work.
He was immersed in native spiritual practices and was influenced by Catholicism. Both experiences and practices have played a significant role on his artistic expression and development.
Houle has been exhibiting in group and solo shows since the mid-1970's. He has collaborated on projects that seek to establish awareness of First Nations contemporary art such as the 'Land, Spirit, Power' exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada in 1992.
He was the curator of Contemporary Indian Art at the Canadian Museum of Civilization from 1977 to 1980. He now teaches at the Ontario College of Art. He is a member of The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.