A daughter of Seferina Bell, Ruby Panana was born in Zia Pueblo in the early 1950's. She grew up watching her famous mother making pottery but didn't begin herself until she was almost 30 years old. She finished high school at Albuquerque's West Mesa High School, then went on to the University of New Mexico in search of a teaching degree. However, her scholarships didn't cover all that she needed covered and she eventually returned to Zia Pueblo. She met and married her husband and moved to his home at Jemez Pueblo. As much as Ruby now lives at Jemez Pueblo, she still makes her pottery in the Zia style she learned from her mother.
In addition to her famous mother Ruby counts potters Kathryn Pino and Eleanor Pino Griego among her family.
Since immersing herself full time in her pottery making, she has blazed a trail for other Zia potters by participating in shows at the Walatowa Visitor Center, the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market in Phoenix, the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market, the Southwest Indian Art Fair in Tucson and the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts and Crafts Fair in Espanola, NM. She has taken home ribbons for Best of Show from Walatowa, 1st and 2nd Place at Santa Fe Indian Market, Best of Pottery at the Heard, 1st and 2nd Place at Eight Northern Pueblos and the Purchase Award at Tucson (meaning: the Arizona State Museum bought the pot she entered to be judged).
Ruby tells us her favorite shapes to work with are water jars and her favorite designs to paint include parrots and rainbows. Like many Native American potters, Ruby says she gets her inspiration from the clay itself. That's part of what causes her to enjoy making pottery so much.
When she's not making pottery you might find Ruby near a basketball game: her favorite team is the UConn Women's Basketball Team. She also enjoys regular visits to the casino (although she doesn't ever win much) and she's lately gotten into a business buying storage units...