A convicted drug dealer and an 81-year-old photographer took wildly divergent routes to arrive at the same conclusion — that art can make a profound difference in a person's life. The Dallas Morning News reports parolee Meco Nathan found his path to redemption in a mosaic tile art project along Interstate 30 in Grand Prairie. Photographer Gary Kelly gained newfound appreciation for his art when he saw its impact on some parolees — and also after he was one of 20 winners in a traffic signal box design contest. Both the mosaic tile highway project and the traffic light box contest come under the umbrella of the city's Public Art program. "The whole program was rewarding. It exposed me to things that I imagined that I would always be doing if I hadn't gotten in trouble," said Nathan, a 39-year-old Grand Prairie resident who was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2008 for selling drugs but was released on good behavior after serving 97 days. Never miss a local story. Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access. SUBSCRIBE NOW The tile mosaic project, in which a group of 10 ex-offenders joined local artists such as Pamela Summers to design an image to fit a 233-foot stretch of the interstate, is the subject of a short film that was shot three years ago but just recently released. "City Hearts" documents the former inmates — who were convicted of crimes ranging from drug dealing to assault and prostitution — as they embrace art as a pathway to a better future. For Nathan and some other participants in the program, that pathway led back to the city of Grand Prairie, which gave some of them full-time jobs. Nathan, who had worked part time for the city before his arrest, was rehired to lead the city's litter crew. Other participants found work elsewhere. "Almost all of the participants in the program just wanted to prove that they could work hard," said Tammy Chan, Grand Prairie's Public Art coordinator. "Once you go to prison, everything becomes that much more difficult when you get out. We wanted to show how it's never too late for people to lead productive lives." The ex-offender program and the light box art contest were both coordinated