Gloria Yuen: The New + The Old



Photography and Text by Gloria Yuen


The New + The Old

The background is comprised of food in pans sizzling over freshly tempered stoves, the muffled voices of aunts and uncles and the occasional pet dog over top like the wrinkly layers of a still-steaming qian ceng gao*. My clothes are soaked in the smell of burnt wax. One of my roommates is laughing at a TV show. As I set up my camera, the three sprouts of incense in the next room shed ashes into their pots; it’s their strange little demonstration of autumn, as we prepare for a new season of our own: Chinese New Year.






They’re a bit nervous I can tell. My mom teases me with silly questions. My dad doesn’t know where to look. The sisters giggle and start singing songs as I watch the clock count down. My friends have memories, but have difficulty forming the past into words.

They ask me what I want them to do.

To form a portrait, I say slowly, brain churning. Past, present, future.

Um, they chorus.

Say whatever you want to say. Camera adjust, button press – and the red light begins winking.

I clear my throat.


How do you feel?




Photography, Video and Text by Gloria Yuen, Copyright 2016.


About The Author: Gloria Yuen is a sophomore majoring in English enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania.  Class of 2018.


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