Christian Chojnacki says his artistic creations are a response to the world around him.
It's a response to the people who care about the environment, like his friends who he's seen pick up litter on the street without a second thought and toss it in the trash can. Or his brother, who ditches car rides in favor of using his skateboard as a primary means of transportation. Even Pop's, which grows a lot of its own herbs in a garden outside of its front door.
It's especially a response to those who don't seem to care about their planet.
The 17-year-old Red Bank Regional senior and Shrewsbury resident has been producing eco-friendly art installations for in the shopping center. Using recycled materials, Chojnacki, who works at the eatery part time when he's not in school, hopes his efforts not only look beautiful and interesting, but help draw attention to environmental issues.
"I just like doing artwork that helps the planet and serves two purposes," he said Tuesday afternoon outside of Mexican restaurant. "I hope it makes the world a more beautiful place and helps improve the planet."
Currently, Chojnacki has one piece currently on display at Pop's, fittingly, a sign for the restaurant comprised of nearly 3,000 bottle caps that took the better part of a year to collect. During the winter Holiday season a second piece of his art comes out, a Christmas tree made out of wine bottles. He's currently working on building a Mexican flag out of recycled materials, too, and has other art designs he's considering.
Every piece he creates represents the reused waste of countless people who might not otherwise even consider the impact of throwing away one bottle cap or one cork or one wine bottle.
Right now, Chojnacki produces his art at Pop's for free. The benefit, currently, is that he gets a place to display his artwork. It'll also be useful to have a portfolio when he applies for college, though he's still narrowing his options when it comes to where he's going to apply. Eventually, he said he'd like to pursue industrial design.
Beyond that, he said he wants to be at the forefront of what could be art's next big movement.
"It's different," he said of his work. "A change is coming. I fee like (art) needs to go through changes and this is one. We've gone through so many different phases of art and I think environmental art is that next phase. I feel like I need to be a part of that change."