Judy Toya was born to Mary E. Toya and Casimiro Toya at Jemez Pueblo in 1953. A member of the Water Clan, she says she learned the art of traditional pottery making from her well-known mother as she grew up, but almost everyone in the family is a potter and they all share techniques and clay sources with each other.
Judy has been creating storytellers and nativity sets since 1972. Among the well-known artists she is related to are Mary Ellen Toya, Anita Toya, Henrietta Toya Gachupin, Vernida Toya, Yolanda Toya Toledo and Melinda Toya Fragua. Her family has been featured in Native Peoples Magazine and Albuquerque Arts Magazine.
Over the years Judy has participated in shows at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Southwest Indian Art Fair in Tucson and the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market. She has taken home a 1st Place ribbon from the Santa Fe Indian Market for a nativity set and a 3rd Place ribbon for one of her storyteller figures.
She tells us her favorite pieces to make are male storytellers (she has many fond memories of her grandfather telling her stories of her people's past when she was young). She also says she gets her inspiration from the clay: when she puts her hands in it it speaks to her of shapes to make and designs to paint.
Judy has passed her pottery-making knowledge on to her daughter, Myra Toya, in hopes that she will help the Jemez pottery tradition continue to grow and flourish.